By Brian Jewell
With traditional country food, antique decor and large gift shops, Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores make mealtime an all-encompassing event for groups. In more than 600 locations in 42 states, the company offers consistent experiences that also have an individual, localized flair.
How does the company pull off this balance? The secret is on the campus of its home office in Lebanon, Tenn., where a team of experts work to put together a distinctive set of antique directions for every Cracker Barrel store. Although every location has the same physical footprint, the decoration for each restaurant is hand-selected by Cracker Barrel’s experts from a warehouse full of antiques that have been picked from around the country.
The designers choose pieces to fit the local flavor of the town where they’re opening a new store and then fix those items to the walls of a mocked-up restaurant at headquarters. They take pictures of every detail and forward the pictures along with the antiques to the final location, where their design is re-created inch-for-inch on the walls of the new restaurant.