By Raven West
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store is truly an all-American restaurant chain and a fixture along America’s highways with more than 600 locations in 42 states. On February 3, 2020 they will add Camarillo to that growing list, with the Grand Opening of store #663.
“Our goal is always to choose locations that we think are vibrant communities, poised for growth,” said General Manager Dan Schneider, “Camarillo is a great location for us! We’re excited to have
the opportunity to serve the great people of Camarillo with high quality country cooking, made from scratch every day, along with a retail store that offers unique gifts for people of all ages.”
The 10,000 plus square-foot building and front porch located just off the Los Poses exit, will seat 180 guests in a family-friendly dining environment unique to Ventura County. As with each location, the Camarillo restaurant is decorated with actual vintage finds inspired by local history. Several walls in this store are dedicated to celebrating the Camarillo community and the state of California, including authentic artifacts that pay homage to their history in the gold mining industry.
“Adolfo Camarillo, one of the city’s founders, employed around 700 workers by growing lima beans, walnuts and citrus in the area,” Dan explained. “As a result, one section of our store features antique décor that consists of agricultural tools, a “beans” sign and packets of seeds.”
Another wall pays tribute to the Ventura Freeway, or U.S. Route 101.The highway was completed in the 1950s and connected Camarillo and Los Angeles by an easy one hour drive. This section of décor includes a car tire, cans of motor oil and automobile posters.
Like the antiques on the walls, the rocking chairs on the restaurant’s porch have been around since the first Cracker Barrel opened in 1969.
“Cracker Barrel’s co-founder Dan Evins put two rocking chairs from the Hinkle Chair Company of Springfield, Tennessee on the porch,” Janelle Slawson, Market Manager explained. “That bit of branding has exploded into a big business of its own. Hinkle still makes the chairs – more than 200,000 rocking chairs for Cracker Barrel each year – and the signature furniture has become the chain’s biggest seller.”
While the décor is attractive, it’s the food that gives Cracker Barrel that Homestyle Southern cooking charm, with menu items not found at any other restaurant. “Momma’s Pancake Breakfast” is their top-selling entrée, with three buttermilk pancakes that come with your choice of any fruit topping or 100% Pure Natural Syrup, plus two eggs and your choice of smoked sausage patties, thick-sliced bacon or turkey sausage, and “Uncle Herschel’s Favorite”, that includes made-from-scratch homemade Buttermilk Biscuits with Sawmill Gravy.
Even the attire the staff wears is unique to Cracker Barrel’s brand. The servers wear special aprons embroidered with signature designs like the Rising Star for new staff members.
“We go through many months of training and courses,” Rising Star Lisa Marie proudly stated. “The first level is earning a single star and our name is embroidered on the apron. I’m working really hard to get my next star.”
There’s no need for cell phones or iPads to entertain your family; in fact there is no WiFi at all!
“The goal at Cracker Barrel is for guests to enjoy themselves with good food and great conversation and there will never be any screens on the tables or video monitors hanging from the ceiling,” Monica Rivera, Retail District Manager, explained. But don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of entertainment trying to solve the peg solitaire puzzle that’s on every table.”
“The game has been a tradition that started back when the very first Cracker Barrel Old Country Store opened in 1969,” Janelle added. “Dan Evins and the founder of Qualls were good friends and they came up with the idea! Qualls and Sons Novelties continues to produce the game for us. They’ve even created a few specialty ones, like our 50th anniversary last year, they made the games in gold!”
After finishing their meal, guests can browse through all the unique gift selections and shopping experiences within the country store, many of which are not able at any other retail outlet. From vintage quilts to retro candy, every shelf of Cracker Barrel is a feeling of stepping back in time.
“What I find really exciting is that so many items in the store are made just for Cracker Barrel,” said General Sales Server Silvia Rodarti. “Our chocolate bars are 100% original chocolate made for us by Hershey’s and all the apparel and specialty quits are designed just for our store.”
Cracker Barrel’s mission is “Pleasing People” and part of their mission is “We are Pleased to Serve” – The Company’s Foundation supports a diverse array of nonprofits and programs as well as offering assistance to countless charitable organizations locally and across the country.
Here at home, Cracker Barrel will be partnering with the Ventura County Military Alliance throughout 2020, participating in events throughout the year.
Standing above the crowd at 6’7” it won’t be hard to miss Dan perusing around the store, smiling at guests and checking on every detail from the retail to the kitchen to its perfection.
“We take people from where they are to where they never knew they wanted to go!” he said.
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store is located off the 101 Los Poses exit
560 E. Ventura Blvd., Camarillo, CA 93010
Open Sunday – Thursday 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
(closed only Christmas Day).
Photo Credits: Raven West
Raven West is a free-lance writer and published author who has lived in Ventura County for more than twenty years. She has an extensive knowledge of local wineries from Thousand Oaks to Ojai and will be covering special events which take place at the tasting rooms throughout the year.Named in the TOP 50 Authors by Authorsdb.com
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My family and I love the Cracker Barrel. We were first introduced to the chain when we visited our daughter while she was in college in Staunton, Virginia. We loved breakfast there – hashbrown casserole and pancakes are my personal favorites. The quality of food and service with a smile just can’t be beat. As our daughter’s education continued in other schools, we visited Cracker Barrels in several other states – each visit brought a smile and warm feelings of familiar and delicious food. We live in Conejo Valley and for several years now, the closest Cracker Barrel was in Victorville, about 100 miles away, which we only stopped in on the way to Las Vegas. Now, we have a Cracker Barrel in Camarillo, just 20 minutes from our house. We are all very excited!