Posted by Tara on Sunday, January 15th, 2012
Back in 1969 when Sam Walton was incorporating his company, local businessman Dan Evins was giving serious thought to changing the way people traveled. The late 60’s was a time when our country’s interstate system was still young. Goods and services along the highways were hard to come by and fast food chains were more common than a place to “set a spell” and get a hot home cooked meal. Dan viewed mealtime as a special time to visit with family and friends and share food and conversation. He also thought of a place where one could purchase things that make you feel good, like jars full of candy, and homemade jelly or jam. Dan recalled the places he used to visit as a young boy – the country store. Evins thought maybe folks traveling the new highways might prefer a relaxing and comfortable place to stop in for a good home cooked meal, AND some unique shopping that would remind folks of our Amerian heritage.
In September 1969, the first Cracker Barrel Old Country Store was opened right here in Dan’s home town (which just happens to be mine too) Lebanon Tennessee. The original Cracker Barrel was right off Interstate 40 at Hwy 109. I was just a kid when this store opened, but I have fond memories of dining there on a Friday night with my family. This store was 5 minutes from my childhood home.
Here is a photo of the original store which was later relocated a few miles east right off the Lebanon Hwy 231 exit. Since Evins opened this store over 40 years ago, America’s highways have welcomed over 600 Cracker Barrels in over 40 states to accomodate locals and weary travelers. The home office is located right here in Lebanon TN and has employed hundreds of local residents. My husband was blessed to work for Cracker Barrel for over 18 years and was employed there during the company’s growth years.
Dan Evins passed away yesterday after a battle with cancer. I would like to extend deepest sympathy to his family on behalf of our community. He made a difference in the lives of countless individuals he chose to help and his business made such a positive impact on our community. America should thank Dan for the dream he made into such a successful reality. Although the time has come to say farewell to a visionary, Cracker Barrel shall remain an American icon. Thank you Dan for bringing the South to the North and the East and the West.