ALDERWINE, MO—Cracker Barrel CEO Michael Woodhouse announced Tuesday that the restaurant and retail chain would expand to a new location out by Highway 18, near the Harmon Road turnoff.
"At Cracker Barrel, our mission is to give our customers hearty, all-American food and old license plates on the walls to look at while they eat," said Woodhouse, gesturing toward a scale model of the future restaurant, which is the same model used for all new location announcements. "That's why we're proud to announce our newest location, just up a ways past the Flying J."
The new location will be the fourth Cracker Barrel in town, fifth if you count the one half a mile from the city limits where the dirt track speedway used to be.
The decision to build one, Woodhouse said, was based on months of extensive internal research indicating that people around here like to eat, like to drive, and are willing to drive to eat.
"Our data showed that folks driving north out of town might like a Cracker Barrel in the immediate area," Woodhouse said. "I always said there should be one out that way anyhow, so no matter which direction you're heading out, you can always stop at a Cracker Barrel."
The new restaurant puts Cracker Barrel on track to outpace its chief rival, Bob Evans, which has only three locations in the whole county. While some have expressed concern that the increased traffic congestion may pose a problem for people on their way to church or the Winn-Dixie, reaction to the news has been largely positive.
"New Cracker Barrel, huh?" motorist Marlon Wentz said. "Well, all right."
This newest Cracker Barrel will offer the chain's signature cuisine of fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, and grits, as well as its usual rustic, old-timey decor, replete with big jars of penny candy and merchandise such as ceramic chickens, berry-scented candles, teddy bears wearing American flag sweatshirts, and wooden-peg "IQ tests." The waitstaff will be comprised almost exclusively of matronly Caucasian females who pepper their conversation with the word "darlin'."
"The down-home cooking, the Americana-themed souvenirs—Cracker Barrel's all about preserving a special way of life," Woodhouse said. "Plus, we got a gross of these salt and pepper shakers shaped like silos, and they need to go somewhere."
Woodhouse also revealed that the location would have its own "real tall sign that lights up, so you won't be able to miss it if you try."
"We'll be listed on those gas-food-lodging exit signs on the highway too," Woodhouse said. "You know, the ones that tell you if gas, food, or lodging is nearby."
The restaurant is scheduled to be open for business in approximately three months. Ground-breaking will begin next Wednesday, and construction will be handled by the fellows who do pretty much all the building around here.
Woodhouse confirmed that Cracker Barrel is considering opening additional locations in the near future, like one near where the Black Cat fireworks stand is now, and another down by that speed trap that gets people if they aren't careful.
"We got a good thing going here," said Woodhouse, leaning back in his rocking chair. "Can't see why we shouldn't just keep on keeping on with it."