Although the style of food and my southern location say we should be a match made in heaven, (ok and the name too, being that I'm white and all), I really don't like the Cracker Barrel. In their defense though, I believe it is just our local establishment that I dislike. I ate at one in Tennessee and it was really good, although it was about 10yrs ago so that could have something to do with it.
I do like the gift shop. I wish they would drop their prices. I can get most of the items somewhere else for a fraction of the cost, but as much as I would love to just shop elsewhere and write off Cracker Barrel forever, I am currently stalking an item in their Halloween section until it goes on sale. It's a giant bobble head witch in a Nightmare Before Christmas style. The thing is the size of an actual toddler. Really cute and if you happen to know when it would go on sale, give me a heads up.
I also have a slight webkinz obsession and find myself in the gift shop regularly for those, and of course I have to buy a few sticks of their multi flavored candy canes, (butter rum and cotton candy!) which make you feel like a kid all over again with every lick.
I know what you're thinking. "Boy, she sure spends a lot of time in that place if she hates it so much" and to that I say, "It sucks you in, and that is all the more reason to dislike it!" Really though, aside from high prices, I don't have anything against the gift shop. It's once you walk in past that podium and the Tammy Faye wanna-be hostess that I start to have issues.
What I really hate, other than the food, is their ugly and dangerous decor. Once I sat below a display of rusty round saw blades from and old table saw. I was too nervous to see if they were hanging by the one tiny nail I suspected they were. Another time, I look up to see a giant plow part suspended in mid air with blades of death aimed at each of my children, but they were all holding pegs of that triangular table game up to their heads pretending to be Shrek for about an hour while we waited on our colorless food to get there, and the plow wasn't really scaring me much any more.
I also hate the staff, and that is saying a lot because I like people and especially like interacting with odd people (I don't get out much) but the Cracker Barrel waitstaff are eerily weird. I know I live in a "red neck" area and finding a "hick" isn't that difficult really, but they found the best of them and I use that term loosely. I already mentioned Tammy Faye the hostess with the mostest (make up), and then you have the waiter, that is obviously gay, yet acts like an ancient gray haired greasy spoon waitress by calling you "honey" or "darlin" and all I can guess is that this is the closest thing to "theatre" he will ever get to do in this town. It's creepy! He stays in character though, except once when my oldest asked for an item without onion and he says with a limp wrist, "That's a good girl, cause onions are plain NASTY!" oops, you let your gay show! It was the first time I liked being on the dark side of the podium, but it was short lived.
I had Tammy Faye stand in as the waitress once and that was even worse. She actually suggested I eat the grilled chicken strips until she forced me to pick them, and when they arrived, she stood over me saying "Taste it! I'll wait until you do. They are good!" and she did indeed wait as I let her peer pressure me at 30 years of age to eat the darn chicken right in front of her. All I could think was, wow, if this was poisoned (which I suspected for a few minutes) it would have been a really odd way to go. I'm pretty sure she even gave me a little clap. Totally weird. A moment Ms. Thang still laughs about on occasion.
I've only ever eaten there using gift cards. Nothing can be worse than eating at the Cracker Barrel. OH WAIT, watching Where the Wild Things Are, was worse, by a bored to death hair.