By Paul T. Choate
Jan. 25, 2013. Jimmy Crippen, the owner and founder of Crippen’s Country Inn and Restaurant in Blowing Rock, has announced that tomorrow, Jan. 26, will be the restaurant’s final day in business as he shifts his focus to his Got to Be NC Competitive Dining Series full-time.
Crippen’s Country Inn and Restaurant opened in 1994 as one of the area’s premier fine dining establishments. Over the years it has received numerous awards and national media attention from publications such as the New York Times, U.S. Airways Magazine as well as the James Beard Foundation.
“I’m not closing the restaurant because it is unsuccessful. It’s very successful,” Crippen said. “But competition dining is literally on fire.”
Crippen extended a heartfelt thanks to Chef James Welch, Crippen’s chef of 16 years and now the chef at the Green Park Inn, and Chef Stan Chamberlain, Crippen’s chef the last three years. He said he would never have been able to have such success without them.
Crippen traveled extensively promoting local chefs and North Carolina ingredients last year when the competitive dining series went statewide. Crippen emceed all of the competitions in Blowing Rock, Wilmington, the Triad and the Triangle. This year, the series is adding two more destinations in Charlotte and Asheville.
“New York City ain’t got nothing on North Carolina, because not only are we cooking it, we’re growing it,” Crippen said.
As part of this transition into a new life, Crippen and his wife Carolyn will also be relocating to Florida and he will commute up to North Carolina for Competitive Dining Series events throughout the year.
“Our family is in Florida — our children, our grandchildren, our relatives — and we miss them terribly,” Crippen said. “It’s moving back home for me, for sure. I was a Florida kid who came up here every single summer and I absolutely loved it up here. Moving to Boone and opening up Crippen’s in Blowing Rock was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
As it stands right now, the Crippen family will be looking into selling their residence here and described the upcoming move to Florida as a “slow move back and forth” until the property sells.
Crippen said he knows he will miss the High Country, but added, “I’m not gone forever. I’ll be back in April for the eighth Fire on the Rock dinners. You can’t get rid of me.”
“This town has made me who I am and part of me will remain in Blowing Rock,” he said.
At this time, details on the future of the inn and restaurant are not disclosed but Crippen is available for discussions with potential buyers. Crippen said that history has always shown success to those associated with the familiar blue house on Sunset Drive.
For more information, contact Susan Dosier at 704-993-7871 or email [email protected].