Forsyth County’s second Cracker Barrel opened today (Feb. 24) at 1750 Pecan Lane, just off Union Cross Road near the exit at Interstate 40.
The new restaurant has a Kernersville mailing address, but is technically in Winston-Salem across the street from the Kernersville line, as pointed out by City Council Member Annette Scippio at the Feb. 21 ribbon cutting.
The ceremony drew such other officials as Mayor Dawn Morgan of Kernersville, state Rep. Donny Lambeth and U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx.
“I call it an institution,” Foxx said of Cracker Barrel, which has been in business since 1969. “I call it a great representation of our country.”
Cracker Barrel is known for its menu of country or homestyle cooking that’s full of tried-and-true American favorites. “I can eat the broccoli cheddar chicken (the Wednesday special) every day,” Foxx said.
Cracker Barrel also has a retail store that sells everything from clothing to candy, including such exclusive items as Cracker Barrel Buttermilk Pancake Mix.
Also on hand for the ribbon cutting was Ray Yoder, 83, of Goshen, Ind., who is known for traveling around the country to visit Cracker Barrel locations.
Yoder visited his first Cracker Barrel in 1978, when his business of driving for the Coachmen RV manufacturer kept him on the road much of the year.
After becoming a regular Cracker Barrel customer on work trips, he set a goal of visiting every single one with his wife, Wilma (who passed away last October), joining him after he retired in 2003.
It wasn’t until years later that Yoder was featured on “The Steve Harvey Show” and “Today” that the Cracker Barrel management took him under the company’s wing. He now gets invited to openings and enjoys other perks.
“I mostly eat for free,” Yoder said, “but I’m an unpaid ‘employee.’”
He was chagrined that he couldn’t claim that he had been to every single Cracker Barrel — as of this week, he is one short. “They’re opening two in the same week, so I can only claim I’ve been to 663,” he said, adding that he plans to travel to Dallas, Texas, shortly to make his record complete.
Yoder said he likes Cracker Barrel because “they’re well-organized and they train their people well.”
Cracker Barrel serves breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week, and the breakfast menu is served all day. It includes pancakes, French toast, eggs and oatmeal. A popular item is the Sunrise Sampler ($9.19), with two eggs, grits, fried apples, hashbrown casserole, biscuits, gravy and a sampling of bacon, smoked sausage and ham.
For breakfast, Yoder favors the blueberry pancakes ($7.99) — topped with blueberry syrup. He also likes the loaded hashbrown casserole with bacon and cheese ($3.19).
The lunch and dinner menu features a mix of sandwiches and such American classics as fried chicken, roast beef, catfish and country fried steak ($9.99 to $12.19). The most expensive item on the menu is the 8-ounce grilled sirloin steak at $13.19.
The menu lists calories for every item, and the highest item being a sampler of chicken and dumplings, meatloaf and ham (1,300 to 1,400 calories, followed by the fried chicken and sawmill gravy at 1,140 calories. But several entrees weigh in at less than 500 calories, not including biscuits, muffins or other sides.
Yoder’s favorite thing to order is the meatloaf. “Nobody can beat their meatloaf, even my wife — and she tried,” he said.
He said he needs to watch what he eats these days, so when he wants something lighter, he’ll order off the kids menu, getting the macaroni ‘n’ cheese ($5.29, 540 calories) or country vegetable plate ($4.89) of two sides (up to 340 calories each), often green beans and slaw. Both come with a choice of buttermilk biscuit or corn muffin.
He also likes one of the grilled chicken salads ($9.99, 500 to 550 calories).
Insider’s tip: Ask for a cider float, or the chilled apple cider topped with ice cream. “They’ll look at you funny because it’s not on the menu, but they have all the ingredients,” Yoder said.
The 10,000-square-foot building has 182 seats, according to general manager Jonathan Thrasher, who grew up in Burlington and has worked for the company for 15 years.
Thrasher said that this store is one of Cracker Barrel’s newer designs, launched about five years ago. It features a slightly different color scheme, different floors and chairs and a redesigned kitchen unlike such older stores as Clemmons. This is the only 26th Cracker Barrel to have the new design.
Thrasher said that this store also has another new feature. A separate pick-up station with its own side entrance and cash register so takeout customers — whether they order by phone, online or in person — don’t have to go through the front door. Starting in a couple weeks, the store also will have curbside service with designated reserved parking spaces. “So if you pay online, we’ll bring the food out to you when you get here. This is only the third store in the U.S. to have it.”
This is Cracker Barrel’s 41st location in North Carolina, following the opening of the Mount Airy location in 2015. Cracker Barrel now has 664 locations in 45 states.
This is the second store in Forsyth County and fourth in the Triad, falling between the Clemmons location, 6420 Sessions Court off Lewisville-Clemmons Road, and the Greensboro location, 4402 Landview Drive near the Wendover Avenue and Interstate 40 intersection. A second Greensboro Cracker Barrel is at 3701 Elmsley St. off Interstate 85.
“Clemmons is a very busy store. And we have the store on Wendover,” Thrasher said. “But the community (in Kernersville) has been asking us to come here for a while, and this is an opportunity for us to fill in the gap.”