About Us

The first time we walked down the streets of Blue Ridge, walking our dogs into the park and sitting on the grass, we knew we loved this town. We knew we had to move there. And that’s when our first culinary dream together was born – Harvest on Main. We certainly had no idea the restaurant we envisioned would be so well received.

We opened Harvest on Main in 2009. The City of Blue Ridge just approved the sale of beer and wine. We first thought that Michelle would continue to hold her editor-in-chief role, writing and traveling with the two national magazines she oversaw. 

So, we rented an office on Main Street for her editor’s position and as HR headquarters for what would become Lit’l Pond Hospitality. The premise was that Danny would only need her to help with marketing and a few busy lunch and dinner rushes.

It would take a little time until a sit-down, farm-fresh, upscale restaurant would find its footing in the region. But we were blessed to have a more extraordinary reception and faster growth than ever imagined.

As the restaurant grew, we discovered it was more difficult to find farmers than we had initially thought. We began to think about more space for our gardens and possibly a teaching garden where Michelle could spend her time passing on her love of creating with kids. We purchased a little property downtown and turned it into The Cook’s Farm, where we started our annual Summer Kids Farm-to-Fork Camp. The camp was offered for nearly a decade, eventually expanding to our 27-acre farm in 2014.

We couldn’t stop growing things. Danny’s love for designing menus and creating new concepts led to the opening of Blue Ridge Grocery and Masseria Kitchen+Bar in 2014 and The Blue Ridge Fry Shop in 2016. The Fry Shop was sold to some friends in 2018 as we embarked on another project, Blue Smoke World Famous Barbecue at the top of the Messer Street hill, up the road from Harvest on Main. At Blue Smoke, we fired up our giant rotisserie smoker daily to create the perfect smoke rings on our brisket, baby back ribs, pork butt, and chicken.

In 2017, we grew our family outside the city borders by adopting two well-established and well-loved restaurants. Morganton-based Cucina Rustica and La Pizzeria at Cucina Rustica were opened by former Florida colleagues of our years before we arrived in Blue Ridge. When they considered retiring, we saw the opportunity to own the land where our restaurants would live. So we purchased the two Italian-style concepts and brought in Danny’s touch with fresh ingredients and classic European chef training.

In 2020, Michelle found herself locked out of the United States for nine months with international airport and border closings in Belize. But there was no stopping our work. We hosted a drive-thru graduation at Cucina Rustica for Fannin High School’s Class of 2020, gathering gifts and handing out graduation caps and gowns for a virtual graduation. Michelle built and opened a resort during the “lock-down.” When we were reunited, we oversaw seven businesses on two continents. And the juggling began.

After several drafts of our next five-year plan, a long vacation with our adult kids to Italy led to a plan neither of us saw coming. We were already determined to grow our business smarter and smaller. We closed Blue Smoke, La Pizzeria and sold Masseria Kitchen + Bar in 2022. In 2023, we sold the entire Cucina Rustica property. And in 2024, we finally let our 15-year-old Harvest on Main child grow-on without us. 

The downsizing was not a retirement plan but a deliberate move to reduce encumbrances preventing us from reconnecting with our first love of travel and education. We refined our vision and mission. After building Blue Ridge into the food town it’s become, we wanted to focus on what drives our culinary dreams.

Now, here we are – two happy ducks in our own Lit’l Pond. And while it may look like we are calmly gliding along beneath the surface, we are paddling like crazy as always to discover new concepts and new destinations.

We have chosen to spend the next chapter designing private dinners, pop-up restaurants, sharing our adventures, and curating culinary experiences. We will begin with Sicily in June 2024 – a natural continuation of our love story – a love story of food, place, people, and sharing.

Cheers, Ciao & Blessings

 – Danny & Michelle