Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. helped an Indiana couple this week achieve their 30-year goal of visiting every rocker-decorated restaurant front porch in the nation.
On Monday, the Lebanon, Tenn.-based family-dining chain whisked Ray and Wilma Yoder of Goshen, Ind., to the brand’s 645th location in Tualatin, Ore., Cracker Barrel’s first location on the West Coast.
After a quest of more than five million miles, Ray Yoder spent his 81st birthday completing the pair’s goal of visiting all of Cracker Barrel units in the U.S. Cracker Barrel flew the couple to Oregon for the visit.
“Ray and Wilma Yoder have touched the hearts of Cracker Barrel employees across the country,” the company said in a statement. “We are thankful to have served them so many times over the years and honored to have been a part of many happy memories they have shared during their 60 years together.”
The Yoders began their Cracker Barrel quest informally. Yoder was hired to drive recreational vehicles across the country and deliver them to dealerships and buyers. A convenient dining spot was the Cracker Barrel on Music Valley Drive in Nashville, Tenn., and more restaurants followed.
The Yoders’ favorite menu items are potato casserole, or blueberry pancakes with blueberry syrup for breakfast time.
“It’s a super way to get the day started,” Ray Yoder said.
The Yoders’ surprise trip to the 645th Cracker Barrel was a treat, they said.
“For little farm kids, it’s been very exciting for us,” Yoder told People magazine. “We really have enjoyed it, but we didn’t do it to come to this type of ending the way it is now. Everybody has a hobby and that’s what we chose to do. We call it our home away from home and it just fit our plan and schedule very well.”
Cracker Barrel said many employees “have our own personal stories about times when the Yoders stopped by our stores to pay a visit, and we look forward to many more.”
In Oregon, the Yoders were greeted by cheers from Cracker Barrel employees and were presented with official Cracker Barrel aprons.
Yoder told People magazine the couple would likely visit more restaurants as they open.
“I don’t like to call it the last one, because I think we’ll continue to go to some more,” Ray Yoder said.
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, founded in 1969, has 645 Cracker Barrel locations and five Holler & Dash Biscuit House units, all of which are company owned, in 44 states.
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