Cracker Barrel Drives Electric Vehicle Pilot Project
Popular Family Restaurant Chain Goes Back to its Roots in Announcing Plans to Install ECOtality’s Blink Electric Vehicle Chargers in Select Tennessee Locations
LEBANON, Tenn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Cracker Barrel Old Country Store (NASDAQ: CBRL) has always tried to offer the genuine hospitality and honest value associated with times past, and now the popular family restaurant is looking to the future with its new pilot project – installing Blink electric vehicle (EV) chargers, provided by ECOtality, Inc., (NASDAQ:ECTY), at select restaurant locations across Tennessee. Cracker Barrel today announced that it will become a major participant in The EV Project, an initiative to increase the adoption of electric vehicles by creating a solid charging infrastructure across the country. Cracker Barrel is pleased to be an early participant and anticipates that its guests will also be pleased regardless of what kinds of vehicles they drive as this initiative clearly looks at the future of travel in America. The EV Project is managed by ECOtality, a leader in clean electric transportation and storage technologies.
“Becoming a leader in The EV Project continues our tradition of striving to anticipate and meet our guests’ expectations and, at the same time, allows us to participate in a meaningful way in the nation’s explorations of energy independence.”
“Cracker Barrel was founded along the interstate highways with the traveler in mind and has always tried to anticipate what our guests might want and need as they stop in for some good country cookin’ and to experience genuine Southern hospitality,” said Cracker Barrel Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Michael A. Woodhouse. “Becoming a leader in The EV Project continues our tradition of striving to anticipate and meet our guests’ expectations and, at the same time, allows us to participate in a meaningful way in the nation’s explorations of energy independence.”
Woodhouse added, “While ownership of electric cars is small compared with traditional vehicles, there’s great curiosity about them, and so we expect our guests will be quite interested in seeing these charging stations when they stop in with us. We like to think that our guests will be pleased to see Cracker Barrel taking an active role in exploring energy alternatives that are aimed at protecting the environment, as well as strengthening our economy. This is a way of showing that Cracker Barrel is focused on the future even as we provide guests with a genuinely hospitable experience reminiscent of times past.”
Installing EV charging stations at select Cracker Barrel locations keeps the Cracker Barrel brand relevant to changing times, but it’s also a nod to the company’s past. Woodhouse pointed out that the original Cracker Barrel locations sold gasoline because founder Danny Evins was an oil “jobber” who wanted to sell more gasoline as well as to offer the food and hospitality he grew up on in rural Tennessee. Fueling pumps were removed in the early 70s during the oil embargo, and Woodhouse sees the new electric car charging stations as being consistent with the company’s roots. “In the early days, Cracker Barrel provided food for our guests and fuel for their cars. While we expect that use of the electric chargers will be light during this pilot project, making this available to our guests is consistent with our brand reputation of hospitality, service, and value.”
Guests will be able to get an 80% charge – the recommended charge – in just under a half hour at the 12 Cracker Barrel locations which will have the DC Fast Charging stations. These guests will essentially be able to “fill ‘er up” in about the same amount of time it takes to order and eat a meal. Guests visiting the 12 locations that will have the Blink EV L2 chargers, which are slower than the DC Fast Charging stations, will be able to top off their tanks, so to speak, while eating some good country cookin’ and browsing in the retail shop.
Cracker Barrel is working with ECOtality, the project manager for The EV Project, to install Blink electric vehicle chargers at select locations in “The Tennessee Triangle,” the 425-mile stretch of interstate highway that connects Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga. Twenty four Cracker Barrel locations will have chargers. A guest could, if desired, drive the entire 425 miles of the Tennessee Triangle, re-charging at Cracker Barrel locations along the way.
Plans are to start installation of the electric vehicle chargers in the spring of 2011 and to be completed within a few months. Guests will be able to check the Cracker Barrel website to see which locations have installed EV chargers.
“We are very pleased that Cracker Barrel Old Country Store has become an EV Project partner,” said Jonathan Read, CEO of ECOtality. “Our goal is to make sure there are readily available Blink public chargers stations where people need them, in convenient locations. Cracker Barrel is a place that people like to visit and is uniquely located to provide a great service and convenience to the public. Cracker Barrel’s work with ECOtality will allow us to move a step closer towards creating an interconnected network of EV infrastructure.”
Twelve of the 24 Cracker Barrel locations that will have chargers installed have been identified. Located along the Tennessee Triangle, these locations will support EV drivers traveling along the corridor connecting Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga:
* East Ridge
* Nashville – Stewart’s Ferry Pike
The other 12 sites will be in and around the cities of Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga to support more local users. Specific locations will be announced as The EV Project progresses.
About Cracker Barrel
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store provides a friendly home-away-from-home in its old country stores and restaurants. Guests are cared for like family while relaxing and enjoying real home-style food and shopping that’s surprisingly unique, genuinely fun and reminiscent of America’s country heritage…all at a fair price. The restaurant serves up delicious, home-style country food such as meatloaf and homemade chicken n’ dumplins as well as its signature biscuits using an old family recipe. The authentic old country retail store is fun to shop and offers unique gifts and self-indulgences.
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. (NASDAQ: CBRL) was established in 1969 in Lebanon, Tenn. and operates 597 company-owned locations in 42 states. Every Cracker Barrel unit is open seven days a week with hours Sunday through Thursday, 6 a.m. – 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 6 a.m. – 11 p.m. For more information, please visit crackerbarrel.com.
About ECOtality, Inc.
ECOtality, Inc. (NASDAQ:ECTY), headquartered in San Francisco, California, is a leader in clean electric transportation and storage technologies. Through innovation, acquisitions, and strategic partnerships, ECOtality accelerates the market applicability of advanced electric technologies to replace carbon-based fuels. For more information about ECOtality, Inc., please visit www.ecotality.com.