Our Mission – Pleasing People

Since the very first Cracker Barrel Old Country Store® opened back in 1969 in Lebanon, Tennessee, we’ve prided ourselves on keeping things pretty simple.

The way we see it, our mission is to please people. Simple as that.

We try to greet everyone who walks in our front doors with a warm welcome and serve good meals at fair prices. Whether you’re stopping in for our homestyle cooking or stopping by to browse our country store, we want everyone to be treated fairly and with respect. We figure if we take care of our guests, well, then, the business will take care of itself.

And fortunately, so far, it has.


Our Story

Rising above America’s Interstate highways, a familiar sign beckons.  Eggs break, biscuits bake, the smell of homestyle cooking rises.  A cash register dings, chairs rock, checkers pass the time.

More than 45 years ago, a Tennessee man named Dan Evins saw an unmet need. The American Interstate was expanding—connecting people to new places—but travelers couldn’t count on a consistent, quality place to stop along the way. To 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, and strong values to do the right thing, the cooks, wait staff, operators and Evins’ Uncle Herschel McCartney—described as the “soul” of Cracker Barrel—created more than a respite. They set an iconic American family table for generations to come.

Fast forward to today and you’ll find that Cracker Barrel is a strong and growing business—grounded by a clear mission.  Our brand is about coming home to a simpler time and place, but our business can’t be immune to a changing world. It’s fair to say we’re striving to strike a thoughtful balance between preserving what makes us special and making changes that tomorrow’s guests will expect.

We are working to integrate technology into the restaurant experience while ensuring that Cracker Barrel remains a sanctuary from life’s routines. We’re focusing on attracting a greater diversity of employees and guests of all ages—setting a place at our table for every family in America. We are expanding the breadth of the merchandise in our stores—shaking up our seasonal displays nearly 40 times a year with a broader assortment of special finds to make sure there’s something for everyone—while keeping a special place for things like music on our shelves.  And we are working to bring greater choice to our menu—whether it’s an interactive dining experience with our popular campfire meals, or more Wholesome Fixin’s for an increasingly health-conscious America—while preserving the popular mainstays like chicken n’ dumplings.

At the core of who we are—and have been since the beginning—is our high-quality, homestyle food. If we can’t source the highest quality ingredients for a menu item, we simply don’t serve it. We use blueberries from Maine, Valencia oranges from Florida for our fresh-squeezed juice, 100% natural syrup individually bottled in Vermont, Westminster crackers from a 100-year-old recipe and serve only choice quality steak. Our commitment to quality is complemented by a growing commitment to local ingredients, and to keeping our menu fresh and exciting with seasonal choices.  And in the products we sell, we seek out trusted artisans and vendors to bring our guests the best quality for their dollar.

But that’s what’s on the table. (And on the shelf)

What keeps people coming through our doors year after year is something far deeper. It’s a sense of human connection. The connection to people—to family and friends around the table. Our very roots are all about connection as we began along the interstate which had the purpose of connecting people and places. To us, this sense of connection is our higher purpose and what our mission provides: genuine, Southern hospitality. Pleasing People is our mission—and a powerful one. While food may nourish the body, we believe that our larger purpose is to nourish the soul.

Pleasing People is not just about setting a great meal in front of our guests, but serving them with warmth. It’s about welcoming guests to sit near our hearth and rekindle connections. It’s about a setting and décor that invites people to step back into a less distracted time in America. And amongst us—the people who work at Cracker Barrel—it’s about values like kindness and decency, respect and humility passed down from the start.

Indeed, our people bring our mission to life. We are committed to hiring people who understand what goes into serving others—and once on the job, we provide them with the opportunity to grow their skills and grow with our company. Make no doubt; our people are our greatest asset.

Pleasing People and making guests feel the way that they do each time they dine with us requires a certain care and precision. Every detail, no matter how small, counts. Details like the precise length we trim the wicks of our lamps so they’ll glow just right. The way the peg games on every table are made by the same Tennessee company in just the same way, store by store. The way our 100% pure natural syrup is served warm in an individual glass bottle for every guest. Or the fact that you’ll always find warmth around our fireplace at the first chill of fall. Our emphasis on operational excellence—doing things right, and doing them consistently—coupled with our methodical focus on hiring, training, and retaining dedicated people has enabled us to continually expand while maintaining the quality and experience that guests expect.

From the way we carefully source gifts in our stores, to the music we play, to the way we make our from-scratch biscuits, every choice in a Cracker Barrel Old Country Store is made deliberately to create a consistent experience that makes people feel at home when they walk in our door. This makes us curators and keepers not just of our brand, but of a distinctly American way of life.