So Where Did That Logo Come From?
"Daddy, did you do this?" Bill Holley remembers his two daughters asking that question whenever they visited Cracker Barrel Old Country Store. Back in the early 1970’s, Bill was a young artist working for The Buntin Group, a Nashville advertising agency. It was at this time he met Dan Evins, the founder of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store.
Bill Holley remembers his early meetings with Dan Evins. Dan wanted to design a new logo for Cracker Barrel Old Country Store. He had several ideas in mind, but needed the right person to create that vision. Known as an artist who sketches his first drafts on napkins, Bill started creating the nostalgic country store image that Dan envisioned.
"I remember the old country stores when I was a kid. I’d see an old gentleman sitting on the front porch in the summertime", says Dan. "He was a farmer or rural person wearing overalls. Most of the ones I knew didn’t have much money but they were proud."
Dan recalls how he’d talk and Bill would draw. "Our original menus looked kind of corny and I wanted to change that. To me, the old country store brought back pleasant memories so we wanted that nostalgic look in the new logo."
Bill knew what Dan was talking about because he too had Tennessee roots. "I grew up in the country and I remember going to the Manchester Cracker Barrel when I was just a kid. People wondered why the family would go out to eat country cooking when that was what we ate all the time."
Bill lived on a farm in Petersburg, Tennessee. He always knew he wanted to be an artist. On rainy days, his mother would find him hunkered down in a corner just sketching away. He graduated from a one-room schoolhouse and still goes back for class reunions.
After several drafts, Bill created the Cracker Barrel logo that’s still in use today. His wife Beverly recalls how excited their two daughters were when they would drive by a Cracker Barrel billboard or when they visited the Manchester Cracker Barrel.
Beverly says "The girls would always ask about the menu and if daddy drew that. The girls loved going to Cracker Barrel. They remember the waitresses wearing red and white checkered blouses and we all loved eating the fried peach pies. One day Bill asked Dan why Cracker Barrel didn't sell the fried peach pies anymore. Dan told him we’re too many and can’t keep up."
Like Cracker Barrel, Bill has become an institution in Nashville. When he celebrated his fortieth anniversary with The Buntin Group, colleagues honored him by wearing special t-shirts stating "40 years and Still Billing Holley." He sat in a Hinkle rocking chair, the same chair that’s used in the logo Bill designed, as friends shared special stories.
More than 25 years have passed since that logo was drawn, and "I still get excited seeing the billboards when I drive down the interstate," says Bill. "I never thought I would design something that ended up on fourteen hundred billboards across the country."
Dan Evins is also proud. "A logo symbolizes what people think of your business. It’s a picture people have of you and the meaning is developed in the stores. I’m proud of our reputation and how people see that logo today."