Cracker Barrel founder Dan Evins dies at 76
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. today extended condolences to the family of Founder and Chairman Emeritus Dan (Danny) W. Evins and expressed sadness at the loss of the man who first conceived of a restaurant that would provide a safe and welcoming home-away-from-home for travelers. Evins was 76 when he passed away on January 14 in Lebanon, Tenn.
Cracker Barrel Executive Chairman Michael A. Woodhouse expressed his sympathy and said, “I first met Danny when I joined Cracker Barrel in 1995 and knew immediately what a rare individual he was. 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.” Woodhouse added, “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.”
Cracker Barrel President & CEO Sandra B. Cochran said, “Cracker Barrel has remained true to Danny’s vision in many ways, including the insistence on quality products at a fair price, and on genuine Southern hospitality. How Danny thought about his guests and his business from the beginning is captured in ‘Pleasing People,’ our mission statement.” She added, “We will continue to protect the concept and honor Danny’s legacy by staying true to the brand and to the principles that were there at the beginning.”
Evins was a Shell Oil “jobber” in 1969 when he decided to open up a restaurant on Highway 109 in Lebanon, Tenn., the community in which he lived. The restaurant had a small gift shop attached. Evins always downplayed his contributions to the business and attributed the company’s success to good luck, but he knew that with the new interstate highway system, people would be traveling more. He built his business by treating his guests with genuine hospitality, offering good-tasting country cooking and charging a fair price, so that they would stop again when they were traveling back in the other direction. That approach to business led to the company’s mission statement, “pleasing people,” a mission statement which is about mutual respect, and which still guides all 67,000 employees today.
Evins named his restaurant Cracker Barrel Old Country Store to recall the country stores of his youth in rural Tennessee where people would gather around to play checkers on top of an empty barrel that had been used to deliver crackers to the store, and catch up on the latest news in their small towns. He offered the Southern country cooking he had grown up on, using many family recipes, and decided to decorate the walls with authentic antiques.
He initiated the industry-leading Personal Achievement Responsibility, or PAR, training program, which provides for increased benefits for employees as they progress through the program from “Rising Star” to “PAR IV”, and he insisted that Cracker Barrel develop computer-based-training programs years before it was standard in the industry.
Evins also kept his eye on the guest experience and was very concerned about maintaining the company’s unique culture as the chain grew from its core markets in the South to reach the 42 states that it is in today. Among other innovations, he is credited with conceiving Cracker Barrel’s popular book-on-audio program, which allows guests to purchase a book-on-audio at one location and then return it to any other location and get a new book-on-audio for only a nominal exchange fee.
Evins served as Chief Executive Officer from 1969 to 2001, and as Chairman of the Board until he retired in 2004, at which time he became Chairman Emeritus and a member of the Cracker Barrel Founders Board.
Source: Cracker Barrel Old Country Store