First Cracker Barrel in California Comes to the Desert

There are currently 649 Cracker Barrel locations across the United States. Its first restaurant and country store opened on Interstate 40 in 1969 in Lebanon, Tennessee by Dan Evins.  However, until February 5, 2018, there were none at all in the state of California.

If you lived in California’s high desert, and got a craving for Cracker Barrel’s Southern specialties, you had to plan for a long road trip. The closest ones were in Kingman and in Yuma, Arizona, both respectfully over 200 miles away.

We know, because we’ve done it. More than once.

To us, and countless others, Cracker Barrel is synonymous with travel.  It’s easy to follow the Cracker Barrel trail from one to the next just off the interstates all the way across the nation in most directions.

In the beginning, Cracker Barrel sold gasoline too. Evins was working at his grandfather’s Shell gas station and wanted to better service the needs of travelers. That’s why Cracker Barrels were located near interstate off-ramps.

As the locations of the restaurants blossomed, Cracker Barrel stopped selling gas in the mid-1970s.  However, 32 modern Cracker Barrel stores have electric vehicle charging stations.

American country stores in the late 19th century stocked barrels of soda crackers, which customers would often gather around to socialize. 

The term “cracker barrel” eventually came to refer to the simple, rustic informality and straightforwardness that was characteristic of these conversations and the country stores they took place in. 

Locals and travelers alike welcomed the opening of Cracker Barrel on Restaurant Row in Victorville, California.  People actually camped overnight outside its front door in anticipation of Cracker Barrel’s long-anticipated grand opening.

Cracker Barrel is known for its down-home country cooking, as much as it’s iconic country store featuring rental books on tape, unique gift items, clothing, and clean restrooms. For us, visiting a Cracker Barrel brings back the nostalgia of returning home.

The overwhelming popularity of California’s first-ever Cracker Barrel presented a few initial challenges, which seem to have been rectified.

We did not make reservations last Sunday morning.  The hostess on the porch took our names and informed us there was a 45-50 minute wait. We decided to hang out in the gift shop to pass the time.

Known for its Southern charm and popular comfort food, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store lived up to our memories.

Victorville’s Restaurant Row is home to 14 dining establishments and located adjacent to the I-15 and Bear Valley Road. With visibility to more than 98,000 cars traveling the I-15 daily, this dining destination has become a highly profitable investment for retail developers.

Cracker Barrel has more than 600 locations in 42 states, so it’s just about impossible to drive for an extended period of time and not encounter one. Unless you were in one of the 8 states without them. Yes, that is a Cracker Barrel sweater I bought 3 years ago on my way from California to Oklahoma.

Cracker Barrel sells a lot of country music CDs, so it’s only natural that the company would partner with some country stars. They’ve entered into exclusive release deals with stars including Charlie Daniels, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Alan Jackson, Alabama, and Alison Krauss. 

80-year old couple, Ray and Wilma Yoder, have logged an estimated 5 million miles traveling to all Cracker Barrel locations across the country since 1977, got to enjoy breakfast and attend the ribbon cutting for the exclusive Victorville Cracker Barrel preview event held on February 2, 2018.

In 1994, the company launched a concept called Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Corner Market in a handful of suburban residential neighborhoods. It didn’t work out as hoped, so all locations were closed in 1997. 

Not only is Cracker Barrel partnering with the California Route 66 Museum to preserve and promote the culture and history of the area, but they have established a $10,000 endowment to Victor Valley College to fund an annual scholarship for restaurant management students and three $1,000 scholarships for students enrolled through the 2018-2019 academic year.

Each Cracker Barrel restaurant features unique local finds that reflect the community’s history, every Cracker Barrel Old Country Store has an ox yoke and a horseshoe hanging over the front door, a traffic light over the restrooms, a deer head over the fireplace mantel, and a cook stove used as a display in the retail sections.  Comforting familiarity is deliberately represented at each Cracker Barrel. 

All of those tools, signs, photographs and toys that decorate the walls of your local Cracker Barrel? They’re all authentic vintage items—no reproductions allowed. Back when the first Cracker Barrel opened, founder Dan Evins asked Don and Kathleen Singleton, a couple who ran a local antiques store, to help him decorate the space in the style of an old country store.

Today, the couple’s son, Larry Singleton, is still in charge of finding unique, regional decorations for new restaurant locations. In fact, Larry runs an entire decor warehouse filled with over 90,000 artifacts at the company’s headquarters in Tennessee, where his team restores and archives every fabulous antique item that he purchases.

Every last one of  the Cracker Barrel stores has been meticulously decorated by a Singleton.

So many menu choices! And all of them, delicious. Put some South in your mouth.

Over 10 million peg games have been made exclusively for Cracker Barrel stores. And everyone who has ever been to a Cracker Barrel knows that playing the peg game found on every table is the best way to pass the time while waiting for your food to show up. The game can be solved with 3 simple moves but we like doing it old school. And not only that, they’ve been made by the same company the whole time: Lebanon, Tennessee’s Quall’s and Son’s Novelties.

Jaylyn ordered her favorite, Chicken n’ Dumplins. Did you know Cracker Barrel serves 11 million orders of Chicken n’ Dumplins a year?

To accompany the feast, she also ordered turnip greens, hash brown casserole, and fried apples. Let us not forget the sweet tea!

John is a breakfast man, no matter what the clock reads.  Cracker Barrel serves breakfast all-day. He ordered eggs over easy, grits, sausage, and biscuits and gravy.  The mound of hot corn bread and buttered biscuits just like Grandma used to make was an added bonus.

Cracker Barrel restaurants also serve 151 million eggs, 121 million slices of bacon, 56 million pancakes, 37 million portion of grits, 13 million pounds of chicken tenders, and over 4 million Moon Pies annually.

We were not disappointed. The food was suitably portioned and tasty. Service was outstanding. Thank you to our waitress Amanda and the many helping hands who made our experience delightful.

John agreed our brunch was good to the last drop!

Cracker Barrel’s friendly manager stopped by tables to ask if the food and service was alright with patrons. Many thanks to Ronnie, waitress Jasmine, and attentive wait staff for an awesome visit we have come to expect at Cracker Barrel, no matter where its location.

Cracker Barrel is not affiliated with Kraft’s Cracker Barrel cheese, which began using the name in 1954. Kraft sued the restaurant chain in 2013 when it licensed its name to a division of Smithfield Foods for a line of meat products to be sold in grocery stores.   Today, bacon, hams, deli meats, baking mixes and more are available at grocery stores under the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store™ brand to avoid confusion.

You will find many of your favorite old timey candies, jams, pie fillings, and snacks at Cracker Barrel. Our sophisticated palates are partial to pecan logs and moon pies, for starters.

Cracker Barrel provides support to employees through the Cracker Barrel Cares organization, has partnered with the Wounded Warrior Project, and provides an annual scholarship through the National Black MBA Association.

Oh, and hey Cracker Barrel, if you ever want to change your name, we think the name “Cactus Barrel” has an amazing ring to it, but maybe that’s just us desert folks. You’re welcome.


The rocking chairs that populate the front porches of every Cracker Barrel are made by the Hinkle Chair Company, a 5-generation family business that was founded in 1834 around the time of the Trail of Tears, in Springfield, Tennessee.

Andrew Hinkle, the company’s founder, was a farmer who made ladder back chairs in the off-season to supplement his income. In 1932, the family gave up farming in order to produce chairs full-time.  The chairs are the chain’s top seller.

We wish Cracker Barrel continuing success in the Golden State. Other Cracker Barrel locations are already planned for Northern California. We hope they take off  like butter on a stack of its delicious hot pancakes. 

But there can be only one location to claim it was the very first, and that’s right here in Victorville, part of the majestic Mojave Desert.


Cracker Barrel Old Country Store

  • Address: 11612 Amargosa Rd, Victorville, CA 92392

  • Phone: (760) 244-0010

  • Pro tip: Want to minimize your wait time? Add your name to the wait list via the Cracker Barrel app or website before you go! Lines can get crazy long during peak hours, weekends, and holidays.



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