Mamma Mia Italian Restaurant

Mamma Mia Italian Restaurant, ownwed by Basset Ayyeb, sits near the former passenger train station that will soon host a bike shop. Ayyeb says biking and hiking traffic for the Virginia Creeper Trail will benefit his business and others.

ABINGDON, Va. — I stopped in for Garlic Knots and a pizza with pepperoni and mushrooms on Saturday night at Mamma Mia Italian Restaurant in Abingdon.

And I left with a new perspective on the alpha and the omega of the Virginia Creeper Trail.

As you know, that rail-trail conversion connects Abingdon to the North Carolina border.

But where does it really begin?

Green Spring Road?

Or Depot Square, where you’ll find the circa-1869 freight train station, now used for galleries at the Arts Depot.

And, next to the Arts Depot, there’s the circa-1909 passenger train station in Abingdon. That has, for a long time, been the home of the Historical Society of Washington County, Virginia, but is now slated to become a bicycle shop.

That station sits along what had been called the Creeper Trail Extension but has since been redubbed Abingdon’s Urban Pathway.

Either way, Basset Ayyeb sees that bike shop as potentially pointing people towards riding more of the Virginia Creeper Trail.

Right past the Abingdon Farmers Market on Remsburg Drive.

And they would pass Ayyeb’s Mamma Mia Italian Restaurant on Wall Street, as well — within just a few steps of the passenger station.

“The bike station, of course, it will help, because it will bring people,” said Ayyeb.

“And people now, instead of taking the bikes all the way from there, will now take them from here,” Ayyeb said.

“So the starting point — or another point to start — is right in front of my door,” Ayyeb said with a grin.

“When they go there, they’re going to see me,” Ayyeb said. “They’re going to say, ‘Hey, wait a minute. You know what? Honey, after we do this, we’re going to come back and eat here.’ Or they’re going to say, ‘Hey, let’s go eat there and then take the bike.’”

That’s called trickle-down economics, right?

One business spreads to the other.

It could be just like you see the eateries of Damascus flourishing alongside the bike-rental shops that serve the Virginia Creeper Trail.

Ayyeb grinned again and said, “Hopefully. Hopefully.”

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