Dan Evins, Cracker Barrel Founder, Dies at 76

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. today extended condolences to the family of founder and chairman Dan Evins and expressed sadness at the loss of the man who imagined “a traditional style down-home type restaurant where the average diner could simply kick back and enjoy their meal in a relaxing and comfortable atmosphere.”

Dan Evins – known as Danny – was 76 when he died on January 14 in Lebanon, Tenn. No cause of death was given.

“Danny was a straight-shooter and dedicated to authenticity. It was an honor and a responsibility that I took seriously to follow Danny as CEO, and then as chairman when he retired.” Cracker Barrel Executive Chairman Michael Woodhouse said in a statement. “Danny was the keeper of this special brand for so many, many years, and he left us with a strong culture that values quality and honesty. He will be missed deeply.”

According to a statement by the company, Evins was working at Shell Oil when he decided to open the first Cracker Barrel location in Lebanon in 1969. The restaurant had a small gift shop attached, a setup that remained consistent throughout all of the Cracker Barrel franchises.

The restaurant catered to highway travelers and focused on offering Southern hospitality, country-style cooking and an associated gift shop that came to define the chain.

Today, the company has more than 67,000 employees and operates 608 stores in 42 states.

Dan Evins served as chief executive officer for the company until 2001 and chairman until 2004, when he retired and became chairman emeritus.

via Cracker Barrel