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Planned Longview restaurant shows I-20 corridor development in progress

By Richard Yeakley
May 2, 2013 at 11 p.m.

Some Interstate 20 development is already underway even while the I-20 Corridor Task Force members iron out recommendations to present to the City Council.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store is actively pursuing building a location in Longview, company spokeswoman Jeanne Ludington said Thursday. Conversation during the task force's meeting Thursday indicates the restaurant may be built off Eastman Road near the interstate.

"I don't think they have closed on the property yet. They haven't officially announced it, but it's no secret," said City Planner Michael Shirley.

News of the development came after Robert Crawley, a task force member, asked about rumors that new sit-down restaurants were coming to the corridor area.

Crawley said the development of restaurants in the area was important not only for interstate traffic, but people such as himself who work south of the interstate.

"We sort of came in here assuming that was going to happen. But that is the first thing we need out there is sit-down restaurants," he said. "Until Denny's opened up ... if I was to go to lunch with someone besides fast food, there is nothing at this side of town. ... If we had that Cracker Barrel and maybe some others, it seems like a no-brainer to me. That's going to be a big step forward right there."

Task force member Brad Tidwell said Cracker Barrel coming was a "done deal."

Ludington would not disclose what property was being considered for the new building, saying more information would be available in early fall.

She added the rule of thumb for the Lebanon, Tenn.-based company is not to release information on a project until "shovels are in the earth."

Reports of Cracker Barrel's move to Longview have been raised for several years, including a 2005 query to the News-Journal's Answer Line column. It was also reported that the city sought to attract the company as early as 2007, according to News-Journal archives.

As recently as December, officials with the organization denied seriously considering placing an establishment in Longview.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store has more than 620 company-owned units in 42 states employing about 70,000 people nationwide.

Each unit averages about $4.10 million in annual sales and 6,700 guests per week, according to the company website.

According to Cracker Barrel's website, the closest restaurant is in Tyler, with two others in Texarkana and Shreveport.

The future Cracker Barrel is not the first company to recently locate in the area.

A Denny's restaurant, built by Roberts-Hatchett Properties, with an adjoining compressed natural gas fueling station are also new landmarks for travelers heading north from I-20 on Eastman Road.



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