• Report: #626019

Complaint Review: Cracker Barrel Old Country Store

  • Submitted: Thu, July 22, 2010
  • Updated: Mon, July 26, 2010

  • Reported By: Terry — Birmingham Alabama USA
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store
655 Cahaba Valley Road Pelham, Alabama United States of America

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Smoking Policy that Ruined My Dinner in Pelham, Alabama

*General Comment: Puff puff......**choke**

*Consumer Comment: Whatever

*General Comment: Don't listen to the naysayers

*Consumer Comment: It's not just Cali...

*General Comment: OH BOO h*o h*o

*Author of original report: Cracker Barrel Quality of Life

*Consumer Comment: YEA RONNY!

*Consumer Comment: Wow...

*Consumer Comment: Your complaint may bring on change...

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I wrote a letter of complaint to Cracker Barrel about their smoking policy and how cigarette smoke ruined a family gathering at their restaurant in Pelham, Alabama.  The following was their response:

"Dear Terry,

We appreciate you taking the time to contact us regarding your recent visit to Cracker Barrel Old Country Store. I understand your concern and apologize for any unpleasantness you may have experienced.

Striving to make Cracker Barrel our guests' home away from home, we try our best to separate the designated smoking dining area from the non-smoking area. We install glass barriers in the wall between smoking and non-smoking dining areas and we use the HVAC system to minimize the smoke. It is typically not possible to separate the different areas of the dining room with individual HVAC systems because of the many rules and regulations involved.

We comply with the no smoking policies in states and cities where smoking is prohibited by law in public restaurants.

I have forwarded a copy of this letter along with your comments to the appropriate department for review and consideration for policy changes.

We hope you continue to make Cracker Barrel your home away from home.


Jason Hill

Guest Relations Representative

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc."

That was three months ago, and despite my reply (below), they have neither responded nor changed their policy.  I feel as if I were blown off.  Here is my response to them:

"Thank you for responding to my e-letter to you. However, your remarks are very disappointing and now lead me to add a few additional thoughts. They have also brought me to an important decision regarding Cracker Barrel.

I was aware that you install a glass barrier between the smoking and non-smoking sections, however, as you seem to already know based on your reply, below, it is entirely ineffective. Smoke doesnt really respect flimsy barriers.

First, it doesnt reach to the ceiling, so there is a huge breach at the top of the barrier over which the smoke flows freely (smoke, being warmer than ambient room air, travels upward and begins to settle back down as it cools elementary physics). That heavier smoke seems to find its way over the barrier, particularly if your non-smoking table is next to it.

Second, the cold-air-return ducts in the smoking section mix the smoke-filled air from that section with all the air in the restaurant, making the smoke detectable (and quite unpleasant) even up front in the store section. In fact, I purchased a lovely t-shirt for my mother in the store in question the one with the smoking section and had to take it back because it reeked of cigarette smoke!

Third, since there are ceiling fans throughout the smoking section and smoke drifts up into the fan blades, they further intermix the smoke and blow some of it outward and downward directly into the neighboring non-smoking section.

Fourth, there are doors cut in the glass partition between the non-smoking and smoking sections. This means that, if someone smoking is seated at a table next to that opening and my table in the non-smoking section is also seated next to it, there effectively is no barrier between us. That was our main problem at the last Cracker Barrel, and because our party was so large, there was no place else in the restaurant to move us.

Fifth, if I ask someone in the smoking section to refrain from smoking because it is bothering us (my wife has a severe allergy), I am considered the rude one!

Sixth, you claim to be creating a home-away-from-home. Well inside my home and those of 90% of the rest of the country (including some who smoke), smoking is never allowed, and certainly not at mealtimes. Thus, for most of your patrons trying to put up with the choking smoke in your restaurant, it is hardly like home.

Cigarette smoke is well-established scientifically as a deadly carcinogen, an allergen, and a pulmonary toxin, and this has been settled science for over forty years. My father died a horrible death at the young age of 56 from lung cancer as a result of a life-long three-pack-a-day habit. My grandmother (his mother) also died prematurely from the same cancer-causing habit. The story of their deaths was a major influencing factor in getting the Liggett Group to settle a class-action lawsuit in 1998. So you should understand I take Cracker Barrels lack of corporate will to remove this dangerous substance from their food establishments very seriously. It is a bad health decision and a bad business decision and, to me, shows that Cracker Barrel cares more about its profits than its customers.

With that in mind, you need to also understand that, through my business, I spend between $10,000 and $15,000 yearly at Cracker Barrels throughout the country and have done so since you opened your restaurants taking clients (or just myself) out for meals. I have now decided, however, that until such time as Cracker Barrel decides to rescind its smoking policy and stop providing smoking sections in all its restaurants, I will not be patronizing any of your stores for any reason. Not only that, I will be discouraging my customers (who love your food and atmosphere) from doing so and will explain to them in detail my reasons for the concern, as well as show them your letter below. I realize that my small contribution to your profits will probably not make much difference to your bottom line, but perhaps the concerted effort of my 500 or so customers just might.

It saddens me to take this step because I really enjoy your product, but I cannot support a business which condones smoking in any fashion, which your answer below clearly indicates that Cracker Barrel does. The fact that, for some years now, you have not responded to your largest complaint (according to 17 of your own managers with whom I have now spoken directly) is evidence that you dont really listen to your customers needs and wants. Your own staff wants the smoking sections gone, for crying out loud! What will it take for you to rectify this egregious policy?"


This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 07/22/2010 07:53 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Cracker-Barrel-Old-Country-Store/Pelham-Alabama-35124-1372/Cracker-Barrel-Old-Country-Store-Smoking-Policy-that-Ruined-My-Dinner-in-Pelham-Alabama-626019. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 General Comment

Puff puff......**choke**

AUTHOR: Adolph - (USA)



 I have a sign in my office stating:


 Is a smoking section in a restaurant

    anything like a urinating section

         in a swimming pool?


That pretty well sums it up IMHO.

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#2 Consumer Comment


AUTHOR: Stacey - (U.S.A.)

You do not smokers? Don't go to a restaurant that allows smoking - Dallas has banned smoking in all restaurants but I go anyway and smoke outside away from the public

You cannot dictate how any company does business period! They are there to make a profit and not to cater to you.

And BTW there is not evidence that second hand smoke causes cancer - there are many people who were diagnosed with cancer (lung and otherwise) that never smoked a day in their lives.  My Grandfather smoked until he was 89 and died of old age at 91 - my Grandmother died at the age of 90 of old age - neither had cancer.


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#3 General Comment

Don't listen to the naysayers

AUTHOR: brownsong - (USA)

I agree wholeheartedly with the writer of this report. Everyone speaks of rights, but only of the rights of smokers to light up wherever they want. What about the rights of non smokers who just want to go to a place to eat and relax? Maybe I don't want to go somewhere else. Maybe I like the food at this place, and I shouldn't have to go anywhere else. I live on the east coast where smoking is prohibited in all public places, and it's a relief. I feel that when someone chooses to start smoking, it is their responsibility to ensure that no one else has to smoke with them. And they should never ask "Do you mind if I smoke" to a non smoker, because the answer is always "Yes". If they say no, it's just to be polite. You shouldn't ask, you should have more respect for the person and just wait. I eat out a lot and I am glad I don't have to worry about smoking like I used to. The law was just passed a couple of years ago.

Smokers just don't get it. And I'm deeply sorry about your father and grandmother.

And by the way, my husband's grandfather died of lung cancer from smoking and so did his wife, and she didn't smoke. She died from his second hand smoke after years of begging him to go outside or open the window in the car, etc. He didn't listen and when he got cancer and was on his deathbed, she was diagnosed, and she went to him in the hospital and hit him over the head and screamed at him for giving her cancer. He died the next day. She died a month later.

So second hand smoke DOES hurt and kill people.
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#4 Consumer Comment

It's not just Cali...

AUTHOR: Ronny g - (USA)

A good friend of my moms was a manger of a little pub in NYC near a college. It was doing really well and she scrimped and saved and beyond all odds finally had a piece of the American dream and was able to purchase the pub.

Business was great...until...the Gub'ment FORCED the pub to become non smoking. Many of the patrons especially in the winter did not want to go outside to smoke..so it ended up costing her. No one was forcing anyone to enter the pub if they didn't like smoke, so why should anyone tell her what legal activities can be done on her premises? So overall, the policy was a no win except for a few complainers.

I do not condone or encourage anyone to smoke, but I also do not condone anyone telling anyone what people can do on there own property, as long as the activity in itself is not breaking any laws.

As stated, I was surprised when I moved from the east coast to LA. We drove and stopped at a waffle house in some other state along the way and the waitress asked "smoking or non-smoking?"...it actually felt nostalgic..and very liberating at the same time. Didn't seem to bother anyone.

I will quit smoking eventually as I know it is not good for my health, in Clinton like fashion I don't really inhale..well very little but no excuses. I will quit I am stronger then the habit. And when I do I may not have liked smelling it when I am in a public restaurant if smoking was allowed in this state..but I would not complain about it in the least unless someone was blowing it in my face.

I remember back when all restaurants had smoking and non smoking sections. I would always choose the section that had the lesser wait..sometimes it was smoking, sometimes it was non smoking but it never seemed to bother anyone either way that I recall.

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#5 General Comment

OH BOO h*o h*o

AUTHOR: Jim - (U.S.A.)

You sound like a Democrap,

 if you dont like something THE WORLD MUST STOP DOING IT.


If you don't like it either eat outside, or don't eat there at all.

I eat there and I won't miss your whiney a*s at all.

Smoking is a personal decision, we all know the dangers Bur when whiney nannies like you Moan and groan YOU ARE THE IRRITANT HERE, not a whiff of smoke.

While im on the subject , secondhand smoke causing damage is a myth.

Go away, stay gone.

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#6 Author of original report

Cracker Barrel Quality of Life

AUTHOR: Terry - (USA)

Ronnie, you present some excellent points that make me realize that my decision to forego eating at Cracker Barrel was a wiser one than I could have imagined.  I had not considered the health effects (though, being a vegetarian, I rarely -- if ever -- ate the salty, fatty foods they serve off a good part of their menu).

But I hope you will also reconsider the wisdom of your choice to smoke.  I would not wish on anyone the suffering my dad underwent as a result of a lifelong habit, only to die nearly penniless at age 56.  For those of us who were left behind, we miss him at birthdays, holidays, and, most tragically, at the birth of the many grandchildren and great-grandchildren who came after his death, who will never know him like we were privileged to do. 

You seem like an articluate, thoughtful, and intelligent person, and you obviously have so much positive to share.  It would be a shame for the world, but especially for your progeny or even your nieces or nephews or cousins (who doubtless look up to you), to lose that with a life cut short by something you could prevent with a fair dose of determined willpower.  I know it is difficult to quit, but what you gain in quality of life will far outweigh the fleeting pleasure you might gain from smoking.  Believe me, in his last year of life, there was little for my dad to enjoy.

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#7 Consumer Comment


AUTHOR: Inspector - (USA)

I have never smoked a cigarette in my life but, I have an occasional cigar.  Smoke has really never bothered me unless they are sitting at my table and blowing it in my face.  I have often selected the smoking area in resturants because I find smokers more relaxed and friendly than "uptight anal" non smokers.

I support no smoking policies in public government buildings however, I do not agree with forced policies (laws) regarding private establishments.  Who are they to tell me, the owner, whether to allow smoking in my business?  Another personal freedom surrendered.  If you don't like it, don't patronize.

I don't know how you can live in that police state (LA).

On a lighter note, they should make obesity in public unlawful, they ruin my apetite LOL.

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#8 Consumer Comment


AUTHOR: Robert - (U.S.A.)

So because YOU want the resturant to be non-smoking they need to stop everything and bow down to do exactly what you want...Umm a bit selfish don't you think.

I'm not defending or opposing their smoking policy..living in CA you often forget that other states still have the option.  It is very strange going to a resturant and being asked smoking or non-smoking.

But if you don't like their smoking policy, then do as you said you were going to do and DON'T eat there.  If enough people really do feel that same way, they will change their policy.  The problem for resturants is that if they no longer allowed smoking, they would have another segment of their customers who will refuse to eat there and go to a resturant that allows smoking.

I have doubts that you actually spend anywhere close to the $10-15,000 you are claiming, which really does not make your letter to them credible.  Because if you did you would have to spend about $27-$41 EACH AND EVERY DAY of the year.  Is it possible..I guess, but seems very unlikely.

If you don't think smoking should be allowed in any resturant then go after your government officials who are the ones who could create regulations that restricts it in resturants.

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#9 Consumer Comment

Your complaint may bring on change...

AUTHOR: Ronny g - (USA)

As all the complaining has lead to smoking bans in most major cities. It is the people (citizens) who vote these changes in.

Just remember, this is a Cracker Barrel (basically the Walmart of southern style  fast food).. a corporation. They are MORE then well aware if allowing smoking or not (if allowed in the particular state) will cause an increase, or decrease in business.

Statistics show around 21% of US citizens smoke. Not coincidentally, a large percentage of those are poverty level or below.

IF this Cracker Barrel felt the need to intentionally allow smoking to spite anal uptight people like yourself at the risk of losing profits...don't you think the corporate big wigs in an attempt to actually make a profit.... have considered this?

Seems you lose...apparently there are more poverty level or sub poverty level patrons that frequent this establishment then the national average, and they decided they want to be allowed to light up. (This is Alabama am I correct?)

So...if nothing changes...just find another place to get your beans or mac and cheese or whatever obesity causing fats and high blood pressure causing salt you require to spend $15,000 a year on.

I will admit I am a smoker. But considering 63.1% of adults in the U.S. were either overweight or obese in 2009, and only 21% of the total population smoke....we are in the minority. So what is it that you feel is the reason they still allow smoking? I live in LA and basically have to scurry into private corners like a scared rat to light up. Granted I do not wish to subject anyone to my second hand smoke if it offends them so greatly...but I also believe since smoking is a legal RIGHT...that the owners of the establishment should have the RIGHT to decide if it is to be allowed on their premises that THEY own and pay all the bills and taxes for...not the gub'ment babysitters.

If Cracker barrel decided to not allow smoking anymore..I would still go there if I liked the food. If they continue to allow smoking and it bothered me so, I would eat outside or take it to go.
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