ED Magedson – Founder
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store655 Cahaba Valley Road Pelham, Alabama United States of America
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:
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.
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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