I had never eaten at a Cracker Barrel restaurant until this past week. But, too, I’m also the person who never watched an episode of “Dallas” – probably for the same reasons. It took less than 34 seconds to realize exactly why I would probably never go back to Cracker Barrel again any time soon: I don’t ever want to be that old. When you suddenly find yourself eating at Cracker Barrel just know you are on a slippery slope to the Luby’s buffet and a full-care nursing home.
Straight up, Cracker Barrel is basically a senior citizen theme park. Those rocking chairs on the porch are just age-appropriate thrill rides. Think rollercoasters for people over 65. Stopping at Cracker Barrel for dinner is not unlike going on a fall foliage bus tour without having to get up the steps of the bus or obtain a doctor’s release from the six medical specialists who currently file on your insurance. At the end of the day, you still get to eat with a huge group of other old folks then exit through the gift shop.
Oh yes, the gift shop. Where else can you get unlimited refills on your ice tea, purchase a cotton/poly blend quilt for $79.99, and pick up a complete collection of Tony Bennett’s greatest hits on CD? Not since the old Stuckey’s sold those weird pecan roll things has there been such a flurry of excitement in the retail world.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the food wasn’t good at Cracker Barrel. In their defense, there was no blue Jell-O on the menu. You still have to wait to progress into your Luby’s stage of decline to get that. I will warn you, though, that this is not the place to go if having your food touch each other is going to trigger you. I spent most of my meal digging the green beans out from under the mashed potatoes. This wasn’t a problem for me, but I know this can cause PTSD in others.
The greater concern for me was if I was given an automatic membership into AARP with my meal. I’m not sure I’m quite ready for that (regardless of my eligibility). Nor am I willing to purchase shoes with Velcro closures. Sorry, Cracker Barrel, but give me another 20 years and I’ll be back.