Cracker Barrel's Origin Story Is As Humble As You Might Think

Cracker Barrel is a cozy getaway that offers homestyle Southern dishes in a friendly environment. According to the Taste of Home, the brand tries hard to ensure that its diners get an unforgettable experience. This means that every Cracker Barrel outlet that you come across seeks inspiration from the locals in terms of decor, which includes antiques from the region you're in. 

The company's initial success was based on a simple idea — travelers need a trustworthy eatery to dine at when they're on the move (via Mental Floss). The brand's founder, Dan Evins, decided to strategically open Cracker Barrel outlets near interstate highways. This worked like a charm as more and more diners started exploring the food at Cracker Barrel restaurants across the country whenever they were on the road. "Most people perceive tourists on the interstate as being mostly one-time customers," Evins said. "We knew that tourists were just creatures of habit."

How the first Cracker Barrel came to be

According to Mental Floss, Dan Evins worked for the oil company Shell, and didn't know much about the culinary industry. However, in the 1960s interstates were becoming popular, which meant that service stations that weren't close to tourist hotspots were suffering. Evins needed to find a solution and chose to start his own gas station in 1969. He also realized that offering freshly prepared dishes at a restaurant on the premises would add to its charm and entice his customers.

Evins let nostalgia take over and designed his chain restaurants based on the country stores he'd loved as a kid. This trick worked and he was able to expand the business. Interestingly, while he kept up with the same model until the 1970s, an energy crisis made him rethink his strategy later. In a few years, he completely switched to the food industry because he knew its potential was solid. And eventually, Cracker Barrel became a household name.