By: Jon Shumaker
For many years when I thought of the restaurant Cracker Barrel (CB) my first thought was audio books. The audio books sadly were cut in the last year or two, so to CB corporate management this is a request to bring them back. My cross-country trips were scheduled around CBs to get more audio books. Over the years I tried their food and loved the southern inspired food. About the only healthy item on the menu is the grilled trout but no one eats there for the low-fat food. As a traveler, one of my favorite activities is finding and eating at the unique CB’s. The standard setup of the CB stores is the entrance and the store on the right with the dinning room on the left. There is the standard wood hardwood floor and wood wall paneling, wood register on the dinning room divider wall, two eating areas (but smaller than the second variation), and a rounded stone large fireplace. I have seen three different store setup variations with a total of six known stores.
The most common variation is the inverse of the normal setup. The entrance and store are on the left with the dinning room on the left. The same store design at the usual and I have been told there are 4 or 5 stores in this design. The locations I know of are 7399 Turfway Rd, Florence, KY and off interstate 40 in the Midwest in Arkansas or Oklahoma (I ate there some years ago).
The second variation has an open floor plan with a nice barn interior (tan paint), two types of wood patterned tile with a dinning room and store transition, the entrance on the right with a large transom window above the door, and the register on the back wall. The fireplace is larger with rectangle bricks in a lighter coloration. This format has a modern feel but the same charm as the standard format. This is more of a fusion of my favorite and most modern design. There is one store that I know of in 4210 Alexandria Pike, Cold Spring, KY.
The third variation is the most modern that reservations can be made and might be necessary. This variation is more like the second variation in design but the standard dinning room size. The only location I know of is in Las Vegas Nevada of this modern design and I hope they do a larger roll out of this type. The outside is of the same style, but the inside is white wood painted walls, a white wood patterned tile floor throughout, and a modern counter on the left back wall. This is my favorite location. Every time my adventures take me near the Vegas area, this place is incorporated into my plans, along with Red Rock Canyon.
As an avid fan of Cracker Barrel and a traveler, finding the unique CB’s might just be an obsession, but travelers must find a mystery to discover. They do not have the most authentic southern food, but the cost is reasonable for a large and exceptionally good meal. Also, when home is where you happen to be they are a constant staple that reminds one of where they call home.