Pine Crest Inn – refreshing a Tryon tradition

Published 4:56 pm Friday, August 3, 2012

For the last five to six months, Mark Parsons has made it his aspiration to breathe a bit of new life into Tryon’s historic Pine Crest Inn.

A sign at the Pine Crest Inn, located just off New Market Road in Tryon. (photo by Samantha Hurst)

Parsons took on the position of operations manager of the more than 100-year-old inn earlier this year. He said he and owner Carl Caudle aim to remind people why the inn has been a mainstay of the area for more than 100 years.
“Carl [Caudle] has been the leading light here,” Parsons said. “I believe he brought me on board to assist in his aim of maintaining the tradition and character of this historic inn but at the same time keep it fresh.”
Sustaining that tradition, yet providing some modernity, is where Parsons’ years of experience in the hospitality industry come into play.
“Great service is an art,” Parsons said. “It’s about the experience the guest has while they are here.”
To enhance that experience, Parsons and Caudle have slowly worked to update the inn’s look and feel. They’ve refreshed the main sitting area with lighter paint colors, added a piano for guests’ enjoyment and brought back to life furniture pieces that have been a part of the inn for 80 – 90 years. Parsons said they’ve also slowly modernized bathrooms and other features of guest rooms.
“I think the Pine Crest Inn is a place of beauty and history that people appreciate,” Parsons said. “This is a place where we invite people to come and rest. We want them to feel that they can come here to heal from work, heal from sadness; heal from anything, really.”
Over the last few months, Pine Crest workers have also spent a considerable amount of time entertaining corporate groups. Parsons hopes these guests will enjoy their stay enough to come back as individuals or recommend the inn and area to friends and family.
Parsons, whose first career was as a choral instructor, has spent his second career in the hospitality industry. Parsons worked for Robert Mondavi in wine education and then Spier South African wines. The South Africa job started out as a two-month consulting stint and transformed into a two-year stay. Now, he said he’s excited to get wine and food events back up and running at Pine Crest.
Parsons’ and his staff’s first move has been to change the feel of meals already served at the inn.
“We made the decision in the last two months to go in a new and exciting direction with our food,” Parsons said. “It’s southern food but it’s got this wonderful edge of beauty to it.”
For guests, this means breakfasts like a French toast bake with fresh peach maple syrup or a 1906 quiche recipe with Granny Smith apples and caramelized onions.
While this may excite the inn’s guests, the No. 1 question Parsons said he gets from the community is, “When are you all going to open for dinner?”
Opening the inn’s restaurant to the public for dinner remains on the table, but Parsons said the primary goal is to do everything in its own time and to perfection.
“Corporate work demands a great deal of time and what we don’t want to do is stretch ourselves too thin and not be able to provide quality service to all guests,” Parsons said.
The first step, he said, is to revive the inn’s regular wine dinners starting this Friday, Aug. 10 at 6 p.m. This wine event will feature winery W. H. Smith of California. It will be a four-course Pinot Noir dinner, Parsons said. For more information, call 828-859-9135 or email Parsons at

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