Roanoke tourism leaders say Blue Ridge Parkway closure may actually be blessing in disguise

Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge said this is an opportunity to get drivers to stop and stay

ROANOKE, VA. – Fall foliage is right on the horizon and each year thousands of people hit the Blue Ridge Parkway to see them. But this year, there’s one hitch — the Blue Ridge Parkway is still closed from Explore Park in the Vinton area to Bent Mountain from prior storm damage.

Despite that, Roanoke Valley tourism leaders said this might actually be a good thing for the region’s hospitality industry, which is badly hurting from the COVID pandemic.

Around dinner time, the kitchen at Vinton’s Farmburguesa stays plenty busy. While volume is the name of the game, co-owner Kat Pascal said quality is the real key.

“Anytime that we can make an impression on people, it’s amazing. So our ‘Columbiana’ infuses our Colombian culture with American style burgers and so for that to kind of standout would be amazing," Pascal said.

And she’s hoping for new customers this fall. With the Parkway closure, travelers looking for a pandemic trip to see the colors will be re-routed.

Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge President Landon Howard said that could be right in front of Pascal’s door.

“When you get to the Roanoke area you’re going to have to get off for a few minutes, but we want you to stay several hours or even plan on spending the night," Howard said.

Not passing up an opportunity, VBR created a detour bringing travelers through the heart of the Roanoke Valley instead of just a basic drive around the closure.

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