…Shaena Muldoon didn’t intend to return the mountains, start a restaurant, and preserve the better part of a village…
Shaena Muldoon, Small-Town Entrepreneur
Why would an in-demand event planner based in Washington, D.C. be tempted to return to a little Virginia-mountain town near her family’s farm? Pretty simple: “People need to see how beautiful it is out here.” These days, she’s become a sort of de-facto urban planner for Eggleston, population 250.
Shaena Muldoon didn’t intend to return the mountains, start a restaurant, and preserve the better part of a village. But that’s how things turned out.
It all started in 2004, when she fell in love with Pyne’s General Store.Her brother, Patrick, had just purchased the abandoned store building in Eggleston, Virginia, population 250, near their family farm. Muldoon had left the area for more exotic places in the 1980s, but was visiting that weekend. She lived in Washington, D.C., where she was an event planner producing such high-powered happenings as the 1998 World Exposition in Portugal and the 2002 U.S. Olympic Torch Relay in Salt Lake City. She loved her work.
But the old store spoke to her.
“I got about five feet into the store and said, ‘Wow, this has got to be a restaurant,’” Muldoon says. “My brother was like, ‘Whatever.’ He thought I was joking, but I was serious. I went back to Washington and figured out how to make the restaurant happen. That building deserved to be something again.”
It took her four years to get the Palisades restaurant up and going, and some Giles County residents just shook their heads. Did she really think she’d lure folks over the curvy two-lane road to Eggleston? To eat in a store?
But folks did come. They’ve been coming for the past nine years. Many enjoy the meandering drive with its gorgeous views of mountains, cliffs, and the New River. They admire the old store’s pressed-tin ceiling, hardwood floors and long oak bar. And they love the Palisades’ upscale comfort food—dishes like pork chop with vanilla porter reduction, pan-fried trout with bacon vinaigrette, and amaretto goat cheese cheesecake.
The Palisades’ reputation spread. It’s been featured in the Richmond Times Dispatch and lauded in the national Canoe & Kayak magazine. People plan road trips to swing through the tiny Southwest Virginia town for supper or Sunday brunch.
“I didn’t worry about whether people would come out to Eggleston. I just knew they should,” Muldoon says. “They need to see how beautiful it is out here. I think I fell in love with the area all over again.”
by Su Clauson-Wicker