Cracker Barrel installs first electronic vehicle charger at its hometown location in Lebanon, Tennessee; restaurant chain aims to have 12 such chargers across the state
October 31, 2011
– Driving forward in its role as a major participant in The EV Project, the largest deployment of EV infrastructure to date, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store (NASDAQ: CBRL) today installed the first Blink DC Fast Charging station available to the public in the state of Tennessee - at its hometown location in Lebanon, Tenn. This charger, the first of 12 high speed chargers that will be installed at select locations in Tennessee, can supply guests with an 80% charge in about a half hour, essentially allowing guests to “fill ‘er up” in about the time it takes to order and eat a meal.
Cracker Barrel is pleased to be an early project participant, installing Blink electric vehicle (EV) chargers provided by ECOtality, Inc., (NASDAQ:ECTY), at restaurant locations across Tennessee. The DC Fast Charger is compatible with the Nissan LEAF, a 100% electric, Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) with a 100-mile range that can reach speeds up to 90 mph and seats five passengers. All Cracker Barrel locations with a DC fast charger installation will also have a Blink Pedestal charger. The company has already installed Blink Pedestal chargers at 12 Tennessee locations, which are compatible with electric vehicles and some hybrid vehicles. These Blink Pedestal chargers will be available for guests to “top off their tanks” as they travel around town. The Fast Chargers are well suited for travel along Tennessee’s main interstate highways.
A number of officials representing Cracker Barrel, federal and local government, ECOtality and Nissan were on hand for today’s ceremony, including Cracker Barrel President and Chief Executive Officer Sandra B. Cochran, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), ECOtality’s Sr. VP Onroad Operations Greg Fioriti and Director of Nissan LEAF Marketing and Sales Strategy Brendan Jones.
“Cracker Barrel works hard to remain relevant in our guests’ changing lives while continuing to offer the genuine hospitality and honest value associated with times past,” said Cracker Barrel President and CEO Sandra B. Cochran. “Our leadership role in the EV Project allows us to continue offering what our guests need and expect while also participating in a meaningful way in our nation’s explorations of energy independence.”
Cochran added that today’s unveiling of Cracker Barrel’s first DC Fast Charging station is a milestone in the popular family dining concept’s 42-year history. When the first Cracker Barrel® stores were built, they had gasoline pumps out front because founder Dan Evins was a Shell Oil “jobber” who was looking for a way to sell more gasoline as well as to offer the food and hospitality he grew up on in rural Tennessee. Fueling pumps were removed in the early 70s during the oil embargo. Cochran said, “We see the installation of electric vehicle chargers as a nod to our past even as we look forward to the future with our current guests, and the next generation of people who will be hungry for the Cracker Barrel® experience.”
On hand for today’s ceremony was U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) who has been a proponent of electric vehicles. “There is enough unused electricity at night that we can plug in half our cars and trucks without building a single new power plant, and forward-thinking companies like Cracker Barrel are making it even easier to drive electric vehicles by allowing customers to charge them up while we eat, work, shop or otherwise go about our days. Electric vehicles are the best solution to $4 gasoline — and plugging in my Nissan LEAF gives me the patriotic pleasure of not sending money overseas to people trying to blow us up.”
Cracker Barrel is installing Blink electric vehicle chargers at select locations in “The Tennessee Triangle,” the 425-mile stretch of interstate highway that connects Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga. When completed, 24 Cracker Barrel locations will have chargers. A guest could, if desired, drive the entire 425 miles of the Tennessee Triangle, re-charging at Cracker Barrel® locations along the way.
In commenting on the project, ECOtality CEO Jonathan Read said, “ECOtality’s goal is to build an EV charging network that places Blink charging stations readily available at locations where people need them. We identified Cracker Barrel Old Country Store early on as an ideal EV Project participant, as it is uniquely located to provide a great service and convenience to the public. Our work together takes us one step closer toward creating the interconnected network needed for a viable EV infrastructure.”
Representatives of Nissan Americas gave those attending an up-close look at how easy to use these chargers are by bringing two of their LEAF vehicles to the event. "Since its debut, strong sales of the Nissan LEAF have been telling us that consumers are ready for a clear alternative to gas burning engines,” said Brendan Jones, director of Nissan LEAF Marketing and Sales Strategy. “Now that more and more businesses like Cracker Barrel are installing charging stations, zero-emission mobility has quickly become a viable mode of transportation that is here to stay.”
* The EV Project is an initiative to increase the adoption of electric vehicles by creating a solid charging infrastructure across the country. The EV Project is managed by ECOtality, a leader in clean electric transportation and storage technologies.
* Cracker Barrel is pleased to be an early participant and anticipates that its guests will also be pleased regardless of what kinds of vehicles they drive as this initiative clearly looks at the future of travel in America.
* While ownership of electric cars is small compared with traditional vehicles, there’s great curiosity about them, and so Cracker Barrel expects its guests will be quite interested in seeing these charging stations when they stop in for a meal and to shop in the retail store. The popular family dining concept expects its guests will be pleased to see Cracker Barrel taking an active role in exploring energy alternatives that are aimed at protecting the environment, as well as strengthening the economy.
* The new electric car charging stations are consistent with the company’s roots. In the early days, Cracker Barrel provided food for its guests and fuel for their cars. While the company expects that use of the electric chargers will be light during this pilot project, making this available to their guests is consistent with their brand reputation of hospitality, service and value.
* Guests will be able to get an 80% charge – the recommended charge – in just under a half hour at the 12 Cracker Barrel® locations (including the company’s hometown of Lebanon, Tenn.) which will have the DC Fast Charging stations. These guests will essentially be able to “fill ‘er up” in about the same amount of time it takes to order and eat a meal.
* Guests visiting the 12 locations that will have the Blink EV Level 2 chargers, which are slower than the DC Fast Charging stations, will be able to top off their tanks, so to speak, while eating some good country cookin’ and browsing in the retail shop.
* Guests will be able to check the Cracker Barrel® newsroom at http://newsroom.crackerbarrel.com/ to see which locations have installed EV chargers.
About Cracker Barrel
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store provides a friendly home-away-from-home in its old country stores and restaurants. Guests are cared for like family while relaxing and enjoying real home-style food and shopping that’s surprisingly unique, genuinely fun and reminiscent of America’s country heritage…all at a fair price. The restaurant serves up delicious, home-style country food such as meatloaf and homemade chicken n’ dumplins as well as its made from scratch biscuits using an old family recipe. The authentic old country retail store is fun to shop and offers unique gifts and self-indulgences.
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. (Nasdaq: CBRL) was established in 1969 in Lebanon, Tenn. and operates 608 company-owned locations in 42 states. Every Cracker Barrel unit is open seven days a week with hours Sunday through Thursday, 6 a.m. – 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 6 a.m. - 11 p.m. For more information, visit crackerbarrel.com.
About ECOtality, Inc.
ECOtality, Inc. (NASDAQ:ECTY), headquartered in San Francisco, California, is a leader in clean electric transportation and storage technologies. Through innovation, acquisitions, and strategic partnerships, ECOtality accelerates the market applicability of advanced electric technologies to replace carbon-based fuels. For more information about ECOtality, Inc., please visit www.ecotality.com.
About Nissan Americas
In the Americas, Nissan's operations include automotive styling, engineering, consumer and corporate financing, sales and marketing, distribution and manufacturing. Nissan is dedicated to improving the environment under the Nissan Green Program and was recognized as an ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency in 2010 and 2011. More information on Nissan in North America, the Nissan LEAF and zero emissions can be found at www.nissanusa.com.
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