Dan Evins

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Dan Evins
BornOctober 11, 1935
DiedJanuary 14, 2012(2012-01-14) (aged 76)
Alma materAuburn University
RelativesJames Edgar Evins (paternal grandfather)
Joe L. Evins (paternal uncle)

Danny Wood "Dan" Evins (October 11, 1935 – January 14, 2012) was an American entrepreneur and co-founder of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, a Southern-themed restaurant chain.

Early life

Evins was born in Smithville, Tennessee, on October 11, 1935.[1] As a child he graduated from Castle Heights Military Academy in Lebanon, Tennessee.[2] He enlisted in the US Army, served in Korea in the Corps of Engineers and attended Auburn University.[1]


Evins also worked as an aide for his uncle, U.S. Rep. Joseph L. Evins, before taking a position with his family's oil company.[1]

Evins co-founded Cracker Barrel in 1969 while he was working for Shell Oil. He opened the first restaurant in Lebanon, Tennessee, on Tennessee State Route 109.[3] He borrowed $40,000 to construct the first Cracker Barrel, which turned a profit just one month after opening.[4]

Evins was the chief executive officer (CEO) of Cracker Barrel from its founding in 1969 to 2001, and as chairman of the board from 2001 until his retirement in 2004.[3] During this time he was also served as chairman of the board of directors for Castle Heights Military Academy while his son was enrolled in the school.[2]

In 1991, he believed gay and lesbian employees should be fired if customers or other staff members found them disruptive.[5]

In 1998, Evans led the drive by Cracker Barrel to purchase and restore the Mitchell House in Lebanon, Tennessee. The home had been a dormitory for elementary age students while Castle Heights Military Academy had been operating.[2] The company spent two million dollars to restore the home and make it the company's corporate office.[6]

By January 2012, Cracker Barrel had more than 67,000 employees working in more than 600 restaurants in 42 U.S. states.[1][3][4]


Dan Evins died on January 14, 2012, at his daughter's home in Lebanon, Tennessee, at the age of 76.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Langer, Emily (2012-01-16). "Dan Evins, founder of Cracker Barrel highway empire, dies". Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
  2. ^ a b c Felkins, Jared (November 8, 2013). "Cracker Barrel sells Mitchell House to fraternity". Lebanon Democrat. Lebanon, Tennessee. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "Cracker Barrel's Founder Dan Evins Dies At 76". WTVF. 2012-01-15. Archived from the original on 2012-01-18. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
  4. ^ a b Martin, Douglas (2012-01-16). "Danny Evins, Restaurant Founder and Focus of Controversy, Dies at 76". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
  5. ^ "Southern restaurant chain's policy allowed firing of homosexuals". The Palm Beach Post. February 28, 1991. p. 6 – via Newspapers.com. (Registration required (help)).
  6. ^ "Mitchell House, Cracker Barrell". Manous Design.