Hilton Head Island, SC is a ritzy enclave with exacting planning standards. Overt signs of commerce are frowned upon. After all, the Yankees who troll its shores and explore its golf courses, toiled mightily to leave all that sordidness behind.
Which brings us to Island Packet columnist, David Lauderdale, and his piece today on Cracker Barrel closing up shop locally (and the problems they faced 19 years ago in front of the local zoning board).
The story of the Cracker Barrel sign can serve as a guide in a community that still struggles to find a balance between commercial and residential factions.
The story shows that both sides have to give some. It shows that citizens need to stand up for what they think is right, and they must take an active role in shaping the community. It also shows that corporations must understand that the Lowcountry is special. Southern Beaufort County is not the same as suburban Atlanta, and the business world should plan accordingly.
According to the story, the island’s Corridor Review Committee objected to the mustard color of Cracker Barrel’s logo and the fact that it depicts a folksy character, something they wanted none of in the former rice fields.
It led to a momentous showdown between a little old lady on the Corridor Review Committee and the president and founder of the Cracker Barrel Corp., Danny Evins.
The man in the sign, he told them, was modeled after his own Uncle Herschel, who helped shape the Tennessee company’s image and values.
According to a 1987 Packet story headlined “Panel says sign still doesn’t cut the mustard,” Evins told the group, “The gentleman next to the barrel represents an era. He suggests a slow tempo.” He is supposed to represent someone conservative, almost religious, Evins said.
Despite the restaurant’s downturn on Hilton Head Island, 535 Cracker Barrels are going strong in other, presumably more commercial, locations.