Prepare for a wait if you have a hankering some of Cracker Barrel’s famous Southern cooking.
The popular restaurant opened in Santa Maria on Monday after months of hype for its all-American comfort food, general store and signature front porch rocking chairs.
But almost immediately after the opening, a rush of excited customers descended on the restaurant, prompting long wait times and crowds of people gathered on the porch.
General Manager Dan Schneider said 60 people were waiting in line when the restaurant opened at 6 a.m. By early afternoon, he said they had served about 500 people.
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“Everybody is extremely thrilled,” he told The Tribune in a phone interview. “Even on the first day, the staff has been on top of it, and everything is going smoothly.”
Arroyo Grande resident Larry Hammons went to the restaurant on Monday morning, looking forward to eating at a chain he’s tried before with his family in the South.
He left because of the long line, however — wait time for a single person was more than 30 minutes at 10 a.m., he said.
“No telling how long the wait was for a family of four or more,” he told The Tribune in a Facebook conversation. “It was packed.”
(Wait times in the early afternoon were about an hour and a half, according to Schneider.)
Hammons said he intends to go back at a time when the wait might not be so long.
“It is a unique place to enjoy a meal and have fun,” he said. “Wild horses couldn’t keep me away.”
Kara Miller — who runs a Central Coast lifestyle blog called Kara in the Kitchen — attended the restaurant’s preview meals with her family on Thursday and Friday.
“We loved it,” she said. “Everything is shiny and new, everyone is excited to be there.”
Miller said she has eaten at Cracker Barrels before in Virginia and New Mexico.
“When we travel, they are the perfect pit stop on the road trip because the kids can play on the rocking chairs, play checkers and wander around the store,” she said. “Plus it’s good, down-home cooking that you can’t get at a drive-through.”
According to previous Tribune reports, the business has added 225 full- and part-time jobs in the area.
The restaurant is in a newly bustling area of Santa Maria that in recent years has added an Old Navy, Urbane Cafe, Buffalo Wild Wings, Lowe’s and Costco.