The long-rumored arrival of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store on Long Island may be a step closer to reality. Two national construction companies, both of whom have built scores of Cracker Barrels over the years, have requested bids from local subcontractors for work on a new restaurant on Crooked Hill Road in Commack.
The Lebanon, Tennessee-based chain operates 653 restaurants in 45 states. Many of the locations are along interstate highways and have become popular pit stops for family road trips.
“Popular” may be an understatement. The old-timey eateries — whose menus feature chicken-fried steak and chicken and dumplings, whose wide porches boast wooden rocking chairs, and whose dining rooms can only be reached by navigating a path through a “general store” full of nostalgia-themed apparel, candy, toys, furniture and more — have exerted a pull on suburban Long Islanders who seem otherwise indifferent to traditional Southern foodways or highway rest stops.
The last time rumors of an impending Cracker Barrel bubbled up on Long Island was in 2015, and social media lit up like a house afire. Soon, the company duly issued a denial. This time, Cracker Barrel isn't confirming or dismissing the idea.
“While we're always considering opportunities for new locations, we have no announcements to make at this time about opening a new store in Commack," said Jane Shehane, a communications coordinator for Cracker Barrel.
But the requests for construction bids add a layer of intrigue.
Venture Construction Co. of Norcross, Georgia, (which has built or remodeled almost 300 Cracker Barrels, according to its website) issued an “invitation to bid” for electrical work that is due July 18. “This will be new construction of a Cracker Barrel,” reads the bid. “The building is 9,170 square feet and the covered porch is 1,316 square feet. This is a ground-up project.”
Ideal Co. of Clayton, Ohio, whose profile on The Blue Book Building and Construction Network website describes the company as “one of the primary builders for Cracker Barrel Old Country Store restaurants throughout the United States,” has invited bids for plumbing work for a Cracker Barrel located at "Crooked Hill Road I-495 and Sagtikps [sic] Prkwy."
The Town of Smithtown Assessor's Office said that there were no records relating to Cracker Barrel, nor did a search of the town's Board of Zoning Appeals from 2015 to the present turn up any mentions of the chain. But a site map given to one of the plumbing companies indicates that the restaurant would be built north of the westbound Long Island Expressway service road at Crooked Hill Road. Just south of Lowe’s Home Improvement is an undeveloped piece of land that abuts Lowe’s parking lot to the west and a Citgo filling station to the east.
Currently, the closest Cracker Barrel to Long Island is in Milford, Connecticut.