The Village is owned by Blue Ridge native Robert Panter, and has been for 19 years. It had a life under other ownership for 20 years before that. The walls of this landmark have seen and heard a lot over the last four decades.
Warm greetings are shouted out when you enter, and you can settle in at one of the original Formica booths or take a table for larger groups. Buffet tables are loaded for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, or you can grab a menu and order. We arrived when the lunch buffet was up, but thankfully off-the-menu breakfast is served all day. It was tough to resist the lure of the delicious aromas coming from the fried chicken piled high, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, lasagna and myriad other offerings on the buffet, but I stuck to my goal and ordered a veggie omelet. You place your order at the check out counter and then either load up your plate or wait for Miss Vicki to bring your meal to you. (She’s been with the restaurant since Mr. Panter bought it, and is as essential to its success as the great food, dishing up conversation and tidbits of local news as efficiently as she makes sure your glass is never empty.)
I love a place where the cook yells out to inquire whether you want spinach on your omelet and you just shout back “yes please”. This is a level of casual I can 100% get on board with.
My omelet came out steaming hot and served with the most scrumptious hash browns I’ve ever experienced. Everything was utterly sublime. They had me at the first bite, and I knew this was my new “go to breakfast joint.”
David had the club sandwich and fries. It must’ve been good, because when we went back a week later so I could experience the buffet, he had the same thing! On that visit, I bellied up to the table and had their famous fried chicken, cabbage, mashed potatoes and lasagna. Everything was hot & tasty. A slice of chocolate pound cake with chocolate icing finished off the meal. This is Southern comfort food at its finest and while my waistline wouldn’t appreciate daily visits, it will be a monthly excursion at least.
The Village is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The buffet items change every day, and you can sign up for their email list to get the day’s selections delivered right to your inbox. Home-style Southern fare is their specialty (their fried chicken is a) amazing and b) always on the menu) but there is also a lovely salad bar and at least 2 soups daily. The sausage/veggie soup that I tried on visit #2 was out of this world. To wrap up your meal, a dessert bar offers a wide selection of tasty treats. For $9.99, it’s a deal that is hard to beat.
Have an event and need catering? The Village has you covered. Give them a call and let them put together a menu that perfectly meets your needs. Miss Vicki brought me a take out dish of their chicken salad to try later, and it was out of this world. She advised that they sell an awful lot of it, and I can see why. It’s a staple on their catering menu.
My only regret about The Village is that it took me 18 years to try it. It so reminded me of a place in Pennsylvania, where I was raised, and trips with my grandfather for an afternoon donut and chocolate milk. Like the restaurant I so fondly remember visiting with my Pop Pop, the Village oozes charm and warm hospitality. You might be a stranger when you walk in, but that only lasts a few seconds. Observing a group of older gentlemen enjoying lunch in a corner booth, or the many tables of various construction workers stopping in for a hot mid-day meal, you just know this is where the locals come to enjoy the food, catch up on what’s happening, and, more important, experience that sense of welcome and belonging that defines this place.
The Village is more than just a restaurant in Blue Ridge: it’s an institution. It nourishes the spirit as well as the stomach, has character, and characters. Simply delicious food, served hot, at a fair price, in a clean setting with quirky charisma. What’s not to love?
Located at 4131 E 1st Street, Phone 706.632.2277 or visit them online at www.blueridgevillagerestaurant.com/village2015_001.htm.