CBRL Group, Inc. has a long history, even though it took its current shape in 1998. CBRL Group are the holding company for Cracker Barrel Old Country Storeâ restaurants and gift shops. The first Cracker Barrel Old Country Store opened in 1969 and today there are over 550 locations.
Dan Evins, Founder and Chairman Emeritus, was working as a Shell Oil "jobber" in rural Tennessee in the late 1960s. Dan drove from town to town, always thinking about ways to sell gasoline. Having a young family himself, Dan understood the challenges of traveling with young children. It was often difficult to find a nice, clean place for a good family meal at a reasonable price, a place to pick up a treat to keep the kids occupied, or a gift. If there were a place where travelers could do all that, and buy their gasoline at the same time, Dan was sure it would be a success.
He remembered the atmosphere of the old country general stores he had visited as a child. At the time, goods such as crackers were shipped to stores in a large wooden barrel. After all the crackers had been sold, the barrel was often used as the base for a checkerboard, around which locals would gather to catch up on all the local news. Dan decided to call this new enterprise Cracker Barrel Old Country Store; a place where travelers and locals alike could gather for a good meal, and some good conversation. He and a local contractor scratched the plans for the first store in the dirt of a plot of land of Highway 109 in Lebanon, Tennessee, and the first Cracker Barrel Old Country Store was born.
During the oil embargo of the 1970s, the company made the decision to stop selling gasoline, but the good country cookin', unique merchandise and homey atmosphere remained.