Cracker Barrel has welcomed guests for 50 years, and the restaurant in Manchester was one of the first stores to open its doors.
Fifty years ago, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, America’s iconic destination for Southern homestyle cooking, warm hospitality and unique retail offerings, made its debut in the small town of Lebanon, Tennessee.
The original Manchester store – store #3 – was opened June 27, 1970. Cracker Barrel in Manchester was rebuilt and opened at its current location in March 1995. And that’s the store welcoming customers today at 103 Paradise St., Manchester.
According to local resident David Welborn the first Manchester store “sold Shell gasoline at the initial location on the corner of Interstate Drive and Woodbury Highway (location of current Circle K convenience store).”
“There is a copy of the original menu on the fireplace mantel in the Manchester Cracker Barrel with prices that might be amusing today,” Welborn said. “I remember eggs being spelled ‘aigs’ for fun. I also remember that the antique items on the wall were ‘for sale,’ but later this idea was abandoned probably because there was an uncertain and difficult situation to restock.”
The original menu was written by hand on a brown paper bag and had “country-fied” spellings for the menu items, such as “brakfast,” “aigs” (for eggs), “sanwiches,” “sho nuff hambergers,” “cow juice,” and “lonies and crackers (bologna to you Yankees),” according to Heidi Pearce, Cracker Barrel corporate communications specialist.
In 1969, a Tennessee man named Dan Evins saw an unmet need. The Interstate was expanding –connecting people to new places – but people on the move couldn’t count on a consistent, quality place to stop along the way, stretch their legs, refuel and find a good meal at a fair price. Evins had a vision to build an old country store to meet their needs – a place that preserved the ingredients of country life to share with travelers on the road and families from nearby.
Before Evins knew it, the idea was much bigger than him. Built by hard work, a mission of Pleasing People, strong values, and genuine hospitality, the cooks, servers, operators and Evins’ Uncle Herschel McCartney – described as the “soul” of Cracker Barrel – created more than a refreshing stop along one’s journey. They set an iconic American table for generations to come.
Evins was passionate about recreating old country stores from his childhood while providing a place for friends and family to reconnect over a good meal. Fittingly, he selected the name Cracker Barrel to pay homage to one of America’s original gathering places. Crackers were delivered to those old country stores in barrels, and people would congregate around them to discuss the news of the day – the original water coolers.
Today, Cracker Barrel has 660 locations in 45 states across the nation, welcoming guests home to a simpler time and place, where they are treated like family.
“Cracker Barrel has been one of America’s beloved home-away-from-homes for 50 years, serving as a familiar sign that greets travelers and local communities alike,” said Cracker Barrel President and Chief Executive Officer Sandra B. Cochran. “Our concept was built around a mission of Pleasing People, which is not just about setting a great meal in front of our guests, but serving them with warmth and kindness. What keeps people coming through our doors year after year is a sense of human connection and being treated like family.”