With over 640 stores in 44 states throughout the U.S., Cracker Barrel Old Country Store® serves more than 217 million guests per year, sharing homestyle cooking and the simplicity of Southern life with business travelers, road-trip adventurers and local regulars alike. Located in Lebanon, Tennessee, Cracker Barrel’s Home Office campus was showing its 30-plus years of age. Existing interiors were dark, cluttered and dated, and lacked adequate meeting space, appropriate technology, and access to daylight and views for most employees. Starting with a workplace strategy, Gresham Smith identified the client’s primary issues and refined a collection of goals and visions into a recommended set of guiding principles to achieve the Home Office transformation Cracker Barrel desired—a welcoming environment for staff that accommodates future growth, technology, collaboration and efficiency.
By creating a framework of guiding principles born out of the workplace strategy, both Gresham Smith and the client were able to confidently move forward toward restructuring the Home Office campus. After developing a Facilities Master Plan that included the renovation of multiple buildings on campus, the design team began working on Administration Building 1—a 30,000-square-foot space that accommodates the organization’s Operations, Retail, Marketing and Finance teams along with a conference center. Key goals for the design plan were to maintain existing spaces where possible to conserve the budget and to transition the majority of employees into a more open office environment.
To allow for more visual transparency and natural light to reach employees, Gresham Smith’s design removed the perimeter offices and added large glass sidelights at all offices and conference rooms. A standardized workstation with lower panels created a more efficient space. The design also includes a variety of meeting and collaborative spaces in which to work and socialize. Providing the first impression of the space, the building’s reception area showcases the transformation of the renovation. The general aesthetic of the space was revamped to portray a sophisticated, nature-inspired and clean look. On axis with reception, the newly renovated conference center with its pre-function area becomes a focal point as users move deeper into the building. New materials, architectural elements and furniture transformed the space into a modern, vibrant atmosphere. Appropriate technology and a variety of meeting space types were designed to support workforce collaboration, productivity, learning and innovation.
To build on the brand’s current identity throughout the space, the design team used warm, neutral tones and a variety of accent materials and textures such as reclaimed woods, burlap and nature-inspired artwork. Accent colors were inspired by saturated blues and charcoal greys commonly seen in structures and settings throughout rural America, with splashes of bright green and yellow, reflecting fields of wildflowers and lively green grass. A variety of objects that can be found at Cracker Barrel stores, including vintage guitars, tobacco baskets and collections of other decorative items appear throughout the space, creating a design that reinforces the Cracker Barrel flavor, while providing a more streamlined and revitalized take on the brand.
Providing Cracker Barrel with a new way to work and interact, the revamped workplace facilitates human interaction while reflecting the character of the Cracker Barrel brand. Gresham Smith’s innovative design not only increases occupancy by 22 percent, but also dramatically increases the amount of meeting and amenity space by 167 percent.