Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2018 - 33
says. "They need to see how beautiful it is out here. I think I fell in love
with the area all over again."
Although the Palisades is busiest
in summer when people hit the river
to fish, canoe and kayak, Muldoon
opens the restaurant for dinner six
days a week in the off-season. She
employs 25 people, not counting
the slate of musicians who play bluegrass, old-time, or blues on weekends. Special events also lure people
to the Palisades to partake of celebrity chef dinners or holiday teas during the winter.
"We went to Blacksburg for everything when I lived out here. Now
Blacksburg comes to us," Muldoon
says of the college town over the
mountain that recently voted the
Palisades one the best places to take
In the summer, she hosts two
weeks of cooking camp, drawing
kids from as far away as Colorado
and Brazil and some from just down
the street. Muldoon and her staff
lead the 7- to 14-year-old campers
through hands-on sessions of food
preparation and hospitality instruction, throwing in science, etiquette,
and a dollop of nutrition. Soon the
kids are preparing the five mother
sauces, trimming meats, and creating their own cotton candy.
"I love having the kids here and
the passion they bring to cooking,"
Muldoon says. "I wish we could all
have this all our lives."
The aged oak counter, pressed-tin ceiling
and general ambiance of the former Pyne's
General Store add to the appeal of
Muldoon's Palisades Restaurant.
Muldoon has big plans. Growing up in
a 19th-century home lovingly refurbished by her parents, Muldoon
says restoring old buildings is in
her blood. Only now she's thinking
about a whole town.
When a house next to Pyne's
store came up for sale as she began renovating the restaurant, she
bought it. She went on to buy three
more downtown buildings; when
her money ran out, her brother
bought two more. At this point, the
Muldoons own seven of the 13 properties on Eggleston's main street.
"I always had a vision for the
whole town," she says. "I'd like to
landscape it, make paths between
the houses, and create
more lodging options
for visitors and for my
She planned high-powered happenings
Mr. Hunter's cottage, as the 1998 World Exposition in Portugal
which belongs to her and the 2002 U.S. Olympic Torch Relay
brother, as a two-suite
rental for overnight in Salt Lake City. She loved her work
guests. The 100-year- in Washington, D.C., but the old store
old house sits on a
spoke to her.
bank 300 feet above
the New River and
about 80 feet from the tracks of the tique store in early May. Upstairs,
New River Train. Railfans love it; for under the ornate stamped-tin ceileveryone else, earplugs are stashed in ing, she'll rent out overnight suites.
The brick foursquare bank was
the bed stands.
"The original owner, Mr. Hunter, built in 1925 to serve a thriving
made furniture. I remember hanging depot town with its own barrel facout on the porch as a child while my tory, cannery, jeweler and several
mother talked to him about making general stores. When the Great Depression toppled local businesses
furniture," she says.
She also remembers visiting in the early 1930s, the bank folded
Pyne's Store and the elderly wom- too. Since then, it's been a house, its
an who cut cheddar cheese from a vault transformed into a fire-proof
wheel on the counter. "I still have kitchen.
"The store and the bank building
the knife sharpener up on the bar,"
are on the National Register of HisMuldoon says.
In 2011, Muldoon opened her toric Places," Muldoon says. "I want
Gunpowder Springs artisan shop in to get the whole town listed as a histhe former hardware store side of toric district."
And then what?
Pyne's Store. The shop carries gour"Well, I'd like to add a dining pamet specialty items from the restaurant kitchen and handcrafted items tio on the river side of the Palisades,"
from a dozen regional artists and Muldoon says. "And work with the
county to get a trail from the river.
Down the street in the old Peo- There will always be something new.
ple's Bank building, Muldoon will My philosophy is to think up the
open a combination café and an- next thing and keep moving."
March/April 2018 33