PGAV Destinations, a global leader in the planning and design of unique destinations, has unveiled a new eating venue at a historic castle.
The firm’s latest project focuses on the restoration of Ruby Falls’ Great Hall, found within a historically significant National Register Building.
As part of the attraction’s multi-phase expansion plan, PGAV Destinations was appointed to design The Castle Café. The firm has combined its experience design techniques for the project with knowledge gained from previous works at UNESCO World Heritage Sites around the world.
Hugh Morrow, Ruby Falls president & CEO says: “Ruby Falls entrusted PGAV Destinations with creating a path forward through a multiphase and multiyear project starting in 2018. Through their encouragement and expertise, we have reimagined our 93-year-old attraction and guest experience through enhanced arrival, tours, shopping, and food service.”
A café with culture
The 1929 limestone castle of Ruby Falls was originally constructed as a venue for gatherings and a reception space for guests touring the Lookout Mountain cave.
During its earliest decades, the castle featured a stylish tearoom by day and was transformed at night into an upmarket restaurant featuring private dining and a live orchestra which accompanied dinner dances.
According to the local newspapers of the era, the castle was home to the largest ballroom in the city.
Morrow adds: “The design of the Café celebrates the Castle’s deep history as a social gathering place, bringing back the tradition of reconnecting with friends and family at the Castle. The new café and restoration project merges Ruby Falls’ rich history with modern comforts and 21st-century sustainability practices.”
The Castle Café project saw the restoration of the structure’s first floor, revealing an original limestone fireplace. The kitchen was also expanded with new high-tech equipment, allowing efficient service for guests.
Ruby Falls visitors can also enjoy longer hours, with the cafe providing breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and snack options.
New beer taps accentuate a seasonal selection of craft beer and hard seltzer from Chattanooga craft breweries, such as Empyreal Brewing, Chattanooga Brewing Company and Naked River, whilst hot beverages include Fairtrade-certified brews from local Signal Mountain roaster Mayfly Coffee.
Keeping the tradition alive, musical performances will also be held in the renovated venue on select dates.
As one of Ruby Falls’ major environmental focus areas, the new venue focuses on the reduction of unnecessary waste.
Through its two-year-old partnership with NewTerra Composting, the café’s organic surpluses are composted, helping keep food waste and compostables away from landfill.
The café uses only 100% plant-based compostable food packaging, and recycling stations are provided for visitors to encourage responsible disposal.
Vice President of PGAV Destinations, Diane Lochner, says: “We are thrilled and humbled to work with Ruby Falls on another innovative project. The Café exemplifies hospitality, storytelling, authenticity, and sustainability, and of course, we enjoy the collaboration with Hugh and the talented Ruby Falls team.”
PGAV Destinations recently made a five-figure donation to Saint Louis Science Center’s Youth Exploring Science Program, helping students wishing to pursue careers in the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) sectors.