Cracker Barrel has long lured weary travelers off America’s highways with its friendly service, classic comfort food and fun general stores.

And all that hospitality has paid off. Nation’s Restaurant News reported the Tennessee-based chain was named the top family dining spot of 2016, per its annual Consumer Picks survey.

Cracker Barrel was ranked No. 1 in four key areas — Reputation, Service, Cleanliness and Atmosphere. It was also applauded for its support of military-based causes and its new music catalog program, where both established and up-and-coming artists contribute to albums that are sold exclusively in the chain’s Old Country Stores.

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Christopher A. Ciavarra, Cracker Barrel’s senior vice president of marketing, told Nation’s Restaurant News the mission statement is a mere two words: “Pleasing People.”

“It’s a pretty straightforward mission. If you speak to hourlies, they know that. They sense the tone and the general rules around which we operate: general respect. We have a pretty clear understanding about our brand. We want to create a home away from home where our guests are treated like family.”

Ciavarra added that 30 to 35 percent of Cracker Barrel’s customers are travelers, which is why its restaurants are so heavily promoted on highway billboards.

First Watch, a Florida-based breakfast and lunch chain specializing in healthy options, placed second in this year’s family dining ranking; it was No. 1 last year. Shari’s Cafe and Pies, with locations in only six states, came in third.

Beth Sawicki About the author:
Beth Sawicki is a content editor at Rare. Email her at
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