Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. is a chain of restaurant and gift stores. This American chain is known for its southern theme and provides a friendly atmosphere for its customers. The menu consists of southern food and country cooking. The food is made from scratch to ensure authenticity and quality. Old traditional recipes are used to prepare the meals displayed on the menu. The items in the gift store promote American heritage and culture. The entire concept of the chain is based on providing tasty and quality southern home-style cooking as well as gift items that have genuine value.
The establishment’s mission is simple. The mission is to please people. To achieve this mission, the company strives to ensure that everyone who visits is greeted with a warm welcome and a great meal at a reasonable price. The establishment serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The gift store provides a range of items from furniture and home goods to toys and books. The company prides itself in its humble beginnings. What started as one country store on a gas station site, has grown into a large chain consisting of numerous locations in various states throughout the country.
Cracker Barrel opened its first store in Lebanon, Texas on September 19, 1969. The establishment’s founder, Dan Evins, thought that it would be a good way to meet the needs of people who were always on the road. Dan Evins was initially in the gasoline business, so he constantly dealt with travelers. He considered what would make him feel comfortable if he were far from home. He came up with good old country food and gifts, which led to the idea of the restaurant and the gift store. The concept of the gift store came from Dan’s experience at a place he frequently visited as a child. This place was known as the “old country store” which was something that every small community had back then. It was referred to as the “trading post” in the west and the “general store” in the north.
The first location was intended to attract interstate travelers and was strategically positioned near the I-40 highway that runs between Nashville and Knoxville, in Lebanon, Tennessee. Other Cracker Barrel locations were also positioned near interstate highway exits in the Southeast and Midwest. The earlier stores in the seventies leased land from gas station sites which were located near the highways to build the establishments. As a result, these earlier establishments also sold gasoline. Eventually, the store began to build restaurants without gas stations on site. The company progressively shifted its focus to the restaurant and gift store concept.
Cracker Barrel was incorporated in February 1970. The company became a publicly traded company in 1981 to facilitate further expansion. Cracker Barrel eventually began to open locations away from interstate highways and focused more on residential areas to attract a wider demographic. The establishment has expanded throughout the United States. The company currently operates over 600 stores in 42 states. Some locations include: Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Louisiana, New Mexico, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, and South Dakota. All stores are company owned and are not franchised.
The establishment has faced its share of controversy with gender and race based discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuits. The company had to sign an agreement to introduce non-discriminatory policies and procedures. It has also faced protests against a former company policy that blatantly promoted discrimination of employees based on sexual orientation. Over the last few years, the establishment has also implemented efforts to improve its image with diversity. It has also had its positive acknowledgments. For example, the chain won the title for “best breakfast” and was also placed second for “best value” in the full-service chain category of the Zagat survey.
The Cracker Barrel establishment consists of both a restaurant and gift store. It is open from 6:00 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. from Fridays through Saturdays. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a variety of meal food options. It also offers a menu for children as well as to-go meals for carry-out. The gift store offers an array of items, which include: groceries, candy, furniture, clothes, accessories, music, books, movies, toys, games, and personal care items. Guests therefore have the option of enjoying a hearty meal, browsing through the store, or both.
The restaurant strives to offer Southern hospitality to all its guests while serving delicious authentic country cooking. The restaurant uses traditional recipes and the food is made from scratch daily with the freshest ingredients. The portions are hearty and the prices are reasonable. Some favorites include the oven baked chicken, the hash brown casserole, the blueberry pancakes, cornbread, biscuits, green beans, chicken noodle soup, and the grandpa’s country fried breakfast. The prices are affordable and reasonable. Breakfast prices fall between $6 and $8. The lunch specials are priced at around $6. Dinner options range from to $9 to $10.
As with most chains, the service depends on the location. Some locations are described as having impeccable service, while service at other locations is described as poor. The hygiene could use some improvement at certain locations. The wait times tend to be long as a result of large crowds of frequenting customers. However, guests seem to enjoy the gift store and are generally happy with the items they purchase. Guests also like to go back to the restaurant to enjoy the delicious comfort food. The quality of food and gift items is of a high level, which brings customers back.
The restaurant offers a humble and friendly atmosphere of southern comfort. Although the establishment has expanded over the years into a successful chain, it has upheld its mission of pleasing people and preserving its tradition of southern hospitality. The entire concept of the restaurant is based on providing a comfortable place away from home where guests can visit and enjoy authentic home-style cooking and exceptional, convenient shopping all under the backdrop of the country heritage of the U.S.A. Cracker Barrel is definitely a favorite among many as evidenced by its large crowds and frequent visitors.