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Anticipation builds for Cracker Barrel
Barrel WEB 1
Leann Healy, left, and Annie Losa help organize the new Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and Restaurant in Cumming on Tuesday.The eatery is set to open March 5. - photo by Autumn Vetter

Debuts March 5

The new location at 675 Buford Hwy., just off Ga. 400 at Exit 14 in Cumming, will open March 5. Hours will be 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 6 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Fans of down-home eating soon will have another local dining option.

Officials with Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and Restaurant say they plan to open the new Cumming location, just off Ga. 400 at Exit 14, on March 5.

Construction of the more than 10,000-square-foot restaurant and country store began last year on a site that previously housed PR’s Barbecue and Mrs. Winner’s Chicken & Biscuits.

Those restaurants, both of which had been closed for some time, were razed last summer to make room for the Cracker Barrel.

General manager Melanie Bell said the new eatery will provide about 150 new jobs.

She and other managers have been taking applications and conducting interviews for the positions over the past couple weeks.

The majority of the jobs — which ranged from cooks and servers to dishwashers, maintenance workers and cashiers — have been filled.

“Over the past two weeks, we’ve seen in excess of 1,200 people interviewing,” Bell said. “We saw about 350 in the first three days.”

A team from the restaurant’s headquarters in Lebanon, Tenn., has been working the past few days to train the new hires.

Bell and her management team all hail from other Cracker Barrel locations around the metro Atlanta area, including Alpharetta, Buford, Conyers and Douglasville.

A few employees are also relocating from other stores, though she said the majority are new to the company.

“We have no more than about 15 transfers. The other 135 or so are new,” she said, adding that staffing has gone quickly.

“We had such high quality applicants here that we were able to reach our staffing goals very quickly. We have some very sharp people who are all really excited to open.”

Like Cracker Barrels nationwide, the Cumming location, which can seat up to 177 customers, will offer a variety of down-home cooking, including breakfast served all day.

Mona Wood, an opening supervisor from the restaurant’s corporate office, said breakfast is so popular that the chain holds a unique record.

“We’re the largest user of maple syrup in the world,” Wood said. “We use about 30 percent of all the maple syrup produced in the world.

“That’s always amazing to me.”

Pancakes and French toast may be big, but so are the chain’s classic Southern biscuits.

Solomon Griffin, one of the managers at the Cumming restaurant, said employees at each location make about 800 by hand every day. Chicken and dumplings is also a big seller.

Wood said some 5,000 pounds of dumplings are made and cut by hand each day throughout the company.

While waiting to be seated or after finishing a meal, many customers enjoy pursuing items in the restaurant’s Old Country Store.

Bell said the Cumming site will feature all the standard offerings, such as rocking chairs, quilts, decorative housewares and nostalgic toys and candies.

“We’ll start picking up different special promotional items this summer,” Bell said.

She called opening the new location “a really exhilarating experience” and said Forsyth residents seem happy about the new dining option.

“We’ve already had quite a few people trying to come in and looking confused when we tell them we’re not open yet,” she said. “We’re hoping that’s a good sign.”