Known for its old-fashioned country fare, Cracker Barrel is forging ahead in electric vehicle infrastructure by joining the growing number of restaurants and retail chains that will offer electric vehicle charging for its customers.

The installation of a Blink EV charger at Cracker Barrel’s hometown location near the company’s headquarters in Lebanon, Tenn., marks the first publicly available electric vehicle Fast Charger in the state. Cracker Barrel’s deployment of charging stations throughout Tennessee will be conducted by ECOtality.

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Cracker Barrel President and CEO Sandra B. Cochran and U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander take a Nissan LEAF for a spin around the parking lot at the unveiling of the state of Tennessee’s first DC Fast Charger unit, installed at the Cracker Barrel location in Lebanon, Tenn. Credit: Cracker Barrel

The Blink DC Fast Charger and the Blink Pedestal chargers are compatible with most plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles. They will be installed at select locations in “The Tennessee Triangle,” the 425-mile stretch of interstate highway that connects Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga. When completed, 24 Cracker Barrel locations will have chargers, giving guests the opportunity to drive the entire 425 miles of the Tennessee Triangle while they recharge at Cracker Barrel locations along the way.

The ceremony, which took place Oct. 31, was attended by both public and business officials, including Cracker Barrel president and chief executive officer Sandra B. Cochran, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), ECOtality Senior Vice President of Onroad Operations Greg Fioriti and Director of Nissan LEAF Marketing and Sales Strategy Brendan Jones.

“Cracker Barrel works hard to remain relevant in our guests’ changing lives while continuing to offer the genuine hospitality and honest value associated with times past,” said Cochran. “Our leadership role in the EV Project allows us to continue offering what our guests need and expect while also participating in a meaningful way in our nation’s explorations of energy independence.”

Cracker Barrel’s 42-year history first began with stores that sold gasoline, but they were discontinued after the oil embargo in the 1970s.
“We see the installation of electric vehicle chargers as a nod to our past even as we look forward to the future with our current guests and the next generation of people who will be hungry for the Cracker Barrel experience,” Cochran added.

In commenting on the project, ECOtality CEO Jonathan Read said, “ECOtality’s goal is to build an EV charging network that places Blink charging stations readily available at locations where people need them. We identified Cracker Barrel Old Country Store early on as an ideal EV Project participant, as it is uniquely located to provide a great service and convenience to the public. Our work together takes us one step closer toward creating the interconnected network needed for a viable EV infrastructure.”

Representatives of Nissan gave those attending an up-close look at how easy the chargers are to use by bringing two of their LEAF vehicles to the event. “Since its debut, strong sales of the Nissan LEAF have been telling us that consumers are ready for a clear alternative to gas burning engines,” said Jones. “Now that more and more businesses like Cracker Barrel are installing charging stations, zero-emission mobility has quickly become a viable mode of transportation that is here to stay.”




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