Cracker Barrel: A Vision Turned Reality
Dan Evans opened the first Cracker Barrel Old Country Store in Lebanon, Tennessee, in 1969. Inspired by the expansion of the interstate and the need for quality rest stops, Evans envisioned a place where weary travelers could find a good meal at a fair price, stretch their legs, and enjoy the nostalgic atmosphere of an old country store. The name “Cracker Barrel” was chosen to evoke memories of classic country stores, where people gathered around large barrels filled with crackers to socialize and catch up on local news.
A Treasure Trove of Authentic Vintage Items
In the early days, Evans enlisted the help of Don and Kathleen Singleton, a couple who ran a local antique shop, to decorate the first Cracker Barrel in the style of an old country store. The Singleton family has been supplying authentic vintage items to Cracker Barrel ever since. Each restaurant features unique local finds that reflect the community’s history, alongside staple items such as an ox yoke and a horseshoe hanging over the front door, a traffic light over the restrooms, and a deer head over the mantel.
A Timeless Game of Checkers and the Famous Rocking Chairs
At every Cracker Barrel, you’ll find checkerboards atop actual cracker barrels, inviting diners to play a game while they wait for their meals. The iconic rocking chairs that grace the front porches of all Cracker Barrel locations are made by the Hinkle Chair Company, a five-generation family business founded in 1834 in Springfield, Tennessee. These chairs have become the top seller for every Cracker Barrel store.
Cracker Barrel’s Expansion and Logo Evolution
As Cracker Barrel expanded in the early 1970s, new locations were opened, all featuring gas pumps. However, when the oil embargo of the mid-70s hit, the pumps were discontinued, and the focus shifted solely to the restaurant and general store. By 1977, Evans and his investors had opened 13 stores from Kentucky to Georgia. In the process of redesigning the logo, Evans wanted it to evoke old-timey nostalgia, which led to the creation of the now-iconic farmer figure in the logo.
Consistent Growth and Enduring Values
Cracker Barrel has grown consistently since its inception, reaching a one-billion-dollar market value by 1992. Today, there are 664 Cracker Barrel restaurants in 45 states, offering comfort food and a nostalgic atmosphere to locals and travelers alike. The key to their success lies in their dedication to home cooking, even making their cornbread from scratch, just like in 1969.
Embrace the warm, nostalgic memories of Cracker Barrel by watching the video below, and don’t forget to like and share because we all deserve a little taste of yesteryear.