Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc., the Fiddlers Grove Foundation and Wilson County have announced alternative plans for the original Cracker Barrel store after its relocation to the Wilson County Fairgrounds, deciding to dismantle the 50-year-old building because of its condition.
The building, opened in 1969, had deteriorated at its original location along State Route 109 and was moved to the Fairgrounds last month with plans to renovate it to become part of Fiddlers Grove.
Instead, Cracker Barrel will use portions of the building for another project that will celebrate Cracker Barrel and its 50-year history in Lebanon, according to a news release from the company.
That plan developed after the Cracker Barrel facilities team and Fiddlers Grove personnel determined that renovating the building would be too costly and ultimately unsuccessful because of its condition.
The company has agreed to reimburse the cost of the building’s move, as well as cover the cost of its decommissioning and storage.
Cracker Barrel will oversee the building deconstruction in order to salvage and store usable sections. Other pieces and materials will be used in several ways, including employee recognition awards.
Cracker Barrel representatives said planning for the new project is underway and would likely involve the creation of a museum in Lebanon, potentially in connection with a Cracker Barrel restaurant.
Wilson County Commissioner Sue Vanatta spearheaded the building’s repurposing and said the building’s legacy and impact was the most important thing.
“The important thing is that the building will live on in a manner that reflects how much Cracker Barrel means to Wilson County and so many people here,” Vanatta said. “That I was able to help achieve this is something I’m extremely proud of.”
Sami and Lina Arnouk donated the building for relocation. The couple owned the building an property after they bought it in a 2011 auction.
“As I recently told (Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto) and the Fiddlers Grove Foundation, one of the things that makes Cracker Barrel what it is, our secret sauce if you will, is the fact that our roots started in Wilson County and remain planted here,” Cracker Barrel CEO Sandy Cochran said. “We celebrate and cultivate this heritage as a part of our corporate culture. Although we didn’t own the building, we are pleased to be able to repurpose it in a way that will support our legacy here, and we are grateful for the opportunity to do so.”
“While we would have loved to have been able to place the building within Fiddlers Grove, it became apparent that this was not going to be a viable project, and we appreciate that Cracker Barrel was able to step in,” Fiddlers Grove Foundation Treasurer Randall Clemons said. “While we would have liked to have been able to make it work at Fiddlers Grove, it’s a big win for Wilson County and Cracker Barrel’s history here.”