CRACKER BARREL OLD COUNTRY STORE
It started in the late ’60s, just off Highway
109. A filling station that also sold souvenirs
and homemade biscuits and pies.
Enter Dan Evins, a local oil company
jobber, who saw the potential of a place that
embodied “welcoming country values.”
Part restaurant, part store… the concept
harkened back to the day when folks
gathered around the barrel of crackers at
the old country store.
Early on, Dan was already looking down
the road. He saw a place with big open
fireplaces, oil lamps on every table and
front porches full of rocking chairs. But the
real brilliance was born out of Evins’ idea to
locate the brand alongside the interstate.
Long car trips were taking America by
storm, and people needed a place to stop,
stretch their legs and have a bite to eat.
But to make this idea a historic success, it
would take innovation and creativity. And it
definitely needed a logo.
The original version of the Cracker Barrel
mark, much like what still exists today, was
designed by Bill Holley, a freelancer for
what was then called Buntin & Associates
in nearby Nashville. This inspired the same
partnership that would later hatch the
unorthodox idea to use billboards to tell the
brand’s story along the interstate.
The roots for telling the Cracker Barrel
story to the country also grew deep
beneath the city where country was born.
Music Row legend Chet Atkins was signed
as an early spokesperson for the brand.
Atkins frequently bantered on broadcast
TV and radio commercials with Dan Evins’
own uncle, Uncle Herschel – who was a
nearby resident and the namesake for the
Uncle Herschel Breakfast.
The music connection struck a chord, and
the soundtrack for the brand was often
told in song. There were Atkins’ signature
guitar licks in TV spots, album deals with
local musicians, sponsorships of the Grand
Ole Opry and even a television show called
“Path to Stardom,” airing on TNN – The
Nashville Network. That’s right, long before
the show “Nashville,” Cracker Barrel had
already begun spreading the word about
the city on national TV.
Over the years, artists from Alison Krauss
to Smokey Robinson, Alan Jackson to
Martina McBride and many more signed
with Cracker Barrel. Which meant lots of
satisfied customers drove away with both
the values of good country cookin’ and
good country music.
Today, Cracker Barrel has evolved to
keep pace with our ever-changing culture,
consumer generations and trends just as
Nashville has… and like Nashville, Cracker
Barrel has grown. From a single location to
well over 600 old country stores, across the
Walk in to a Cracker Barrel now, and you’ll
find menus that offer alternative dishes
and freshly-sourced ingredients… unique
digital and social media brand experiences
plus advertising across all channels that has
kept the brand culturally engaging – giving
modern relevance to this old country store.
Through all of this success and expansion,
Cracker Barrel has always honored its
hometown country values. In fact, there
are very few brands that have taken a seat
at our breakfast, lunch and dinner tables
the way we’ve seen Cracker Barrel Old
Country Store do.
And while times have certainly changed,
and the restaurant industry has evolved and
grown, the values that built this brand have
maintained their unique authenticity. And
that unto itself is pretty darned cool. In fact,
you might say, it’s the stuff of Legend.
Which is why tonight, the American
Advertising Federation of Nashville is
honored to present the Legacy Award to
our friends and neighbors at Cracker Barrel
Old Country Store.