Secrets Cracker Barrel Doesn’t Want You To Know

Behind the nostalgia, Southern stereotypes,
pancakes, grits, and tchotchkes, Cracker Barrel has collected a few secrets even uglier than
its logo. Here’s everything Cracker Barrel doesn’t want
you to know. In 2017, Bradley Reid Byrd of Milltown, Indiana,
posted a simple question to Cracker Barrel’s Facebook page: “Why did you fire my wife?” The question became a meme about finding out
the truth behind the firing, which Byrd said came out of the blue after his wife had been
working there for 11 years as a retail manager. According to Heavy, Byrd accused them of letting
her go just before she was due vacation time. The incident inspired a hashtag and a
petition that got an astonishing 10,000 signatures. Cracker Barrel never explained the firing,
and according to Inc., keeping quiet was probably its best move. Any legitimate reason for the firing the company
could have given would probably have been interpreted as a smear, or outright not believed
after all the hubbub. Cracker Barrel has a pretty lengthy history
of legal trouble. A recent example comes from August 2018, when
the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced the chain had violated some pretty
major laws two years earlier. A lawsuit claimed Cracker Barrel refused to
hire an applicant for a dishwashing position solely because he was deaf. According to the EEOC, “the store manager
was visibly uncomfortable interacting with the applicant,” and that she ultimately refused
an interview. When the prospective dishwasher turned up
to the scheduled interview, the store manager told him the manager who would be conducting
the interview wasn’t there. Three other applicants, none of whom were
deaf, were hired. EEOC District Attorney Jamie R. Williamson
said of the incident: “Hiring decisions should be made based on
qualifications, not on fears about or prejudices against people with disabilities.” Yet another 2018 lawsuit involved an item
for sale in Cracker Barrel’s famous gift shop. According to the Tennessean, Earl “Peanutt”
Montgomery, who co-wrote 73 songs with country music legend George Jones, sued the chain
to the tune of $5 million. The dispute stemmed from Cracker Barrel and
Concord Music Group releasing a long-shelved, posthumous album of Jones’ music. According to Montgomery, Jones had wanted
them to record the album together, with all the ownership rights and proceeds to go to
Montgomery as, quote, “his retirement package for all his years of service and friendship.” The album was finished, but it got lost in
decades of ever-changing record contracts. It ended up in Concord’s possession after
Jones’ widow sold the singer’s assets following his death in 2013. Montgomery said neither Concord nor Cracker
Barrel had the rights to release the recordings, but did anyway. A lawsuit dating back to 2014 claimed that
a Cracker Barrel location’s handicapped parking spaces weren’t regulation and were too steep
for wheelchair accessibility, according to Business Insider. And the plaintiff, Sarah Heinzl of the U.S.
Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team, won her case. More problems came out in the trial. The court found that at least 107 locations
in seven states had similar problems. As part of the ultimate judgment, all those
parking lots had to be fixed within two-and-a-half years. Further orders were given to survey the remainder
of the restaurant’s locations, and Cracker Barrel had to fix any other problems the surveys
found within seven years. In April 2012, a terrifying situation unfolded
at an Ohio Cracker Barrel. According to, Kevin and Katherina
Allen were eating dinner with their daughters when Katherina told her husband that she was
going to leave him. Kevin threatened their lives before walking
out. Katherina immediately called a friend, then
the police. “She stated that he was in his car, circling
the parking lot. She believed he was waiting for her.” She also appealed to the store’s manager and
asked permission to hide in the restaurant’s walk-in coolers. The manager declined. Kevin Allen returned to the restaurant with
a shotgun and opened fire. His wife and one daughter were killed instantly. The other daughter died from her injuries
a month later, reported. He was shot and killed by responding police
officers. Katherina’s family sued Cracker Barrel for
declining to help. Cracker Barrel argued that it shouldn’t bear
the responsibility for, quote, “unforeseeable” events. But the judge ruled that the lawsuit could
go forward, and attorneys for the family argued that staff had more than enough information
to realize the family was in serious danger and prevent the tragedy. In 1991, Cracker Barrel prided itself as an
example of traditional American values. One way it demonstrated that distinction was
a new hiring policy specifically designed to prevent hiring gay employees and, according
to a company memo, allowed for the firing of current employees who failed to display,
quote, “normal heterosexual values.” At least nine people who lost their jobs claimed
their sexuality was the reason for their dismissal. At that time, only Massachusetts and Wisconsin
specifically prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexuality, so there was little
legal recourse for the workers. But the court of public opinion spoke up. After a wave of protests and public backlash,
Cracker Barrel reversed course and cancelled the policy, but not before irreparable harm
was done to the brand. Former Cracker Barrel employee Bonnie Usher
claimed that not only did her harassment complaints go unheard, they led to her losing her job. In a complaint filed in 2003 with the New
Hampshire Human Rights Commission and in a 2006 lawsuit, Usher alleged that while working
for the company she was verbally abused, sexually assaulted, and discriminated against on the
basis of her gender and sexual orientation. Usher was fired in 2004, and instead of any
of the normal reasons for losing a job, like poor timekeeping, stealing, or spitting in
the food, she believes she was fired simply for complaining about the way she was being
treated. The outcome of the suit hasn’t been widely
reported, but it was bad press for the chain either way. A 2004 U.S. Department of Justice investigation
concluded that Cracker Barrel’s values were more than just old fashioned. They were outright antiquated. The DOJ found evidence of a whole swath of
discriminatory practices at 50 restaurants across seven states, with suggestions that
managers were complicit. The behavior included segregating customers
according to race, seating white groups before black groups, and making black customers wait
longer for service that was often inferior. Cracker Barrel agreed to adopt a long list
of improvements and changes, but that didn’t stop the customers who were victims of the
discrimination from suing the company. Cracker Barrel settled and agreed to pay the
customers $8.7 million, though Cracker Barrel still somehow got by without having to admit
any wrongdoing. After forking out $8.7 million to settle that
race discrimination lawsuit, you’d think Cracker Barrel would have taken steps to avoid a repeat
experience. But the company was hit with another discrimination
suit in 2006, this time from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, well before
the incident with the deaf applicant. This one involved 51 employees at three restaurants
in Illinois. The case revealed allegations of both racially
charged language and discriminatory practices, as well as inappropriate touching and sexual
comments directed at female coworkers. Cracker Barrel settled the case, paying out
$2 million to be shared among the employees. The company was also prohibited from retaliating
against those employees, and agreed to provide extra training for the workers at the three
Illinois restaurants in the hope of avoiding similar behavior in the future. When Susan Mosher stopped at her local Cracker
Barrel in Texas in 2011 for lunch with her husband, she ordered a classic BLT with fries. Halfway through her meal, she noticed some
unexplained special sauce on her fries that was red, but it wasn’t ketchup. On closer examination, the marks were found
to be bloody fingerprints. The culprit? Well, Mosher knew she hadn’t cut herself. No, one of the cooks had cut himself and broken
company protocol by continuing to work and handle food while bleeding. He was supposed to leave the kitchen entirely. Mosher was a recent cancer survivor, and despite
her very understandable fear of contracting a bloodborne illness, Cracker Barrel offered
her little more than an apology, a free meal, and two $50 gift cards for her trouble. What are the odds those gift cards were used? For a company that’s had as much bad press
as Cracker Barrel, what would be better than amplifying a heartwarming story of human kindness? Yet when 73-year-old Vietnam veteran and Cracker
Barrel employee Joe Koblenzer gave away a corn muffin to a man who looked homeless,
Cracker Barrel opted to fire its kindly employee and wallow in the inevitable bad press that
followed instead. “The general manager said to me, ‘Bad news
for you, Joe. We’re going to have to let you go.'” The corporate justification was that it was
against company policy to give away food, and that this wasn’t the first time Koblenzer
had done it. But when you weigh the cost of a corn muffin
against the price of a deluge of bad publicity, you have to wonder what the Cracker Barrel
brass were thinking. The restaurant and gift shop parts of Cracker
Barrel have separate management and are internally referred to as separate entities, but their
earnings are still reported as if it’s all one single company. That probably doesn’t matter one way or another
to most people who just want some hot biscuits, but it’s a huge deal for at least one shareholder. According to Sardar Biglari, CEO of Biglari
Holdings, this structure is denying shareholders the information they need to judge the relative
performance of each side of the business. The “Old Country Store” could be allowed to
run at a huge loss with the difference being made up by the restaurant, or vice versa,
and no one would be the wiser. Biglari is famous for buying into businesses
he thinks aren’t running at their best and shaking things up in hopes of improving the
operation. But Cracker Barrel stood firm and refused
to release the information to the public. Which kind of makes it look like there’s something
to hide. Every Halloween countless parents across the
country worry about the same thing: sharp stuff in the candy. But despite the efforts of fear mongers everywhere,
very little evidence exists of people actually getting hurt this way on Halloween. The same can’t be said for Cracker Barrel. In 2007, the chain was forced to recall frozen
burger patties from 313 restaurants after a 56-year-old customer, Irene Grann, cut her
mouth on a piece of metal in her burger. After the woman was taken to the hospital,
the restaurant manager reportedly found a piece of razor blade sticking out of the patty,
and investigators later found another object buried deeper inside. Mrs. Grann and her husband were regular visitors
to the restaurant, and surprisingly declared their intention to return soon, as it was
one of their favorite places to eat. Now that’s brand loyalty. “Ha ha ha, here I go, dumb me, off to have
a big Southern meal at Cracker Barrel! Because I’m so stupid!” There are actually two Cracker Barrels in
the food industry, and the restaurant wasn’t the first of its name. That accolade actually goes to Kraft Foods
and its Cracker Barrel brand of cheese, which has been sold in grocery stores since 1954. When the restaurant came on the scene 15 years
later, Kraft didn’t make a fuss because the two businesses were different enough that
they didn’t come into direct competition. But then, in 2012, the restaurant decided
to market a line of branded foods for sale in grocery stores, leaving Kraft no choice
but to sue. Kraft feared the two brands were so similar
that if the restaurant somehow angered its customers (not that they’d ever do that, right?),
those customers might avoid Kraft’s products in the mistaken belief that they were made
by the restaurant chain. But the restaurant was keen to expand its
brown and yellow empire in the name of profit, and wasn’t going to back off. By the end of 2013, an agreement was reached
that satisfied both parties. To differentiate the brands on the grocery
store shelves, the restaurant chain agreed to market its products under the revised brand
name CB Old Country Store. Kraft didn’t have to change anything in its
branding. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Mashed videos about restaurant
chains are coming soon. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the
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66 thoughts on “Secrets Cracker Barrel Doesn’t Want You To Know

  1. I'll never eat here we have a couple… however I knew this place gave me bad vibes

  2. That "don't give away food" policy is not exclusive to Cracker Barrel and a few restaurants were sued after giving food away. Its just a liability.

  3. I personally know several people who's employment was terminated by Crack your Barrel. One manager had been with them just short of 20 years.
    Most folks don't give a second thought of how dirty they do their employees. Really sad!

  4. I stopped eating at restaurants that consider fat as a form of food many years ago.

  5. My Cousin was a ASST. MANAGER at a Az. Cracker Barrel and was LAID OFF right before he was Due A Raise ..He gave the Ungrateful Restaurant 15 years of Loyal Service…(He has a Attorney Looking Into This Situation)

  6. Cracker Barrel is NOT RACIST…they treat ALL People of Color… Race.. and Creed EQUALLY BAD!…

  7. I know the service is ok… But let's talk about the food!!! The last time I was in one of these poor excuse for a restaurant, was for breakfast…scamble eggs is what I ordered with a slice of ham. What I got….plain omelet that was shopped up and a bone with fat and a thin piece of meat.
    Will I go back again???
    When I said something about the eggs to server,I was informed that's what "corporate" wants scramble eggs done….

  8. if someone wanted to run into my house and hide in my refrigerator because they married a bad tempered loser. Id turn them away too.

  9. I’m sure all name brand restaurants have terrible stories hiding in the closet’s ….. we never hear or see what really goes on behind closed doors . As long as people don’t urinate in your beverage.

  10. None of this is going to make me stop eating at Cracker Barrel that food is delicious!

  11. When I was a kid, I thought it was only for white people especially because I'm from the south

  12. Well my experience with cracker barrel is horrible this video is more about legal problems but in my opinion the biggest problem is nasty food. I tried 3 different times giving benefit of doubt but all 3 times the food was nasty. I don't fully understand the draw to cracker barrel they seem to stay busy with flow of customers. I just know the food I was served wasn't fit to eat.

  13. The small town in which I live has a Cracker Barrel. Typical of small towns, all the employees are local. The employees and customers know one another, so the employees are not going to do or say anything outrageous to harm or insult their neighbors. The service and food are both very good at this local restaurant. I shall return many times over.

  14. If I were that Ohio judge, I would've let the case go forward also. The woman sought the help of the staff to protect her. They refused. So, yeah …

  15. Well now we are not allowed to to someone go . When you go to work you make the deal and agree to their rules . I hate the way businesses hire people who won’t work and let the good ones go.
    But the fact of the matter is . Unless you own your own business then you have no say . That’s why we are all slaves to a job

  16. I love Cracker Barrel! Their gift shop has good sales sometimes 70% off. I think you get the most for your buck .

  17. Their food sucks anyway and great now they're discriminating against people? Not cool close shop already in my opinion

  18. They don't support the constitution either . A Shit company , but most are in today's world .

  19. The food is ok, I think it's terrible that a company can get sued because they want to hire who they want, but that's the big thing these days, it's all bullshit.

  20. The shooting has nothing to do with cracker barrel. Our cracker barrel is awesome, all kind of staff. Everyone is welcome and treated with kindness. Food is delicious and people like working there. I know I do.

  21. I LOVE CRACKER BARREL. They have always had great service and great food. You just can’t please some people no matter what you do. The best are in Kentucky and Tennessee.

  22. I was a night maintenance for cracker barrel . The general manager was known for being odd and touchy with the young girl employee's . The managers were all pieces of shit to . One would steal food and stole food once from my night maintenance co worker . One manager would call me big nuts because I would tell at the general manager for giving me shit and my maintenance co worker . They would grab brooms out his hand and bully him . Not to mention the main cook was nuts he cut himself the pour guy . And he would make your food with open wounds, and did drugs . And the managers let him because he was to good .

  23. Wait someone was fired for stealing that is wild! Also Kraft stock is 20$ cracker barrel 150$ so is Kraft really winning. Honestly couldn't care either way just saying

  24. who eat the corn muffins at Golden Corral they are the world's worst and it gets fired for giving away

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