Dan W. Evins, Crack Barrel Old Country Store

Dan W. Evins, found and chairman emeritus of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store has died.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store has extended condolences to his family and expressed sadness at the loss of the man who first conceived of a restaurant that would provide a safe and welcoming home-away-from-home for travelers. Evins was 76 when he passed away on January 14 in Lebanon, Tennessee.

In remembering Danny, Cracker Barrel executive chairman Michael A. Woodhouse expressed his sympathy and said, “I first met Danny when I joined Cracker Barrel in 1995 and knew immediately what a rare individual he was. Danny was a straight shooter and dedicated to authenticity. It was an honor and a responsibility that I took seriously to follow Danny as CEO, and then as chairman when he retired.”

Woodhouse adds, “Danny was the keeper of this special brand for so many, many years, and he left us with a strong culture that values quality and honesty. He will be missed deeply.”

Cracker Barrel president and CEO Sandra B. Cochran says, “Cracker Barrel has remained true to Danny’s vision in many ways, including the insistence on quality products at a fair price, and on genuine Southern hospitality. How Danny thought about his guests and his business from the beginning is captured in ‘Pleasing People,’ our mission statement.”

She adds: “We will continue to protect the concept and honor Danny’s legacy by staying true to the brand and to the principles that were there at the beginning.”

Evins was a Shell Oil ‘jobber’ in 1969 when he decided to open up a restaurant on Highway 109 in Lebanon, Tennessee, the community in which he lived. The restaurant had a small gift shop attached. Because Danny was modest and humble, he always downplayed his contributions to the business and attributed the company’s success to good luck.

But he knew that with the new interstate highway system, people would be traveling more. He built his business by treating his guests with genuine hospitality, offering good tasting country cooking and charging a fair price, so that they would stop again when they were traveling back in the other direction. That approach to business led to the company’s mission statement, “pleasing people,” a mission statement which is about mutual respect, and which still guides all 67,000 employees today.

Evins named his restaurant Cracker Barrel Old Country Storeto recall the country stores of his youth in rural Tennessee where people would gather around to play checkers on top of an empty barrel that had been used to deliver crackers to the store, and catch up on the latest news in their small towns. He offered the Southern country cooking he had grown up on, using many family recipes.

Evins served as CEO from 1969 to 2001, and as chairman of the board until he retired in 2004, at which time he became chairman emeritus and a member of the Cracker Barrel Founders Board.

Steve Crane, National Potato Council

At the National Potato Council’s (NPC) 2012 Annual Meeting, held January 6-7, 2012, in Orlando, Fla., Steve Crane of Exeter, Maine, was elected to serve as NPC’s president for 2012 and to lead its executive committee.

Maine’s Brent Buck (Buck Farms, Chapman), Dominic LaJoie (LaJoie Growers, LLC, Van Buren) and Darrell McCrum (County Super Spuds, Mars Hill), were also elected to serve on NPC’s board of directors. NPC’s leadership is comprised of U.S. potato growers, nominated by their state organizations, and elected by their peers.

Crane is the co-owner of Crane Brothers, Inc., where he and his cousin, Jim Crane, are third generation farmers. Crane Brothers farms approximately 3,000 acres of land, 1,300 acres of which are planted for chipping potatoes, while the rest is dedicated to corn and small grains. Crane’s grandfather started the farm in the 1950s; he passed it down to his father and uncle, and it continues to be worked by generations of the Crane family, including Crane’s sons, Ryan and Andrew. Crane Brothers has a long history with Frito-Lay, contracting with it since 1962.

Crane became involved with NPC when the farm won the organization’s 2002 Environmental Stewardship Award. “I attended NPC’s annual meeting to receive the award. While I was there, I participated in some of the meetings and became very interested in the council’s public policy work. I decided to get more involved to try to help our industry,” Crane says.

Crane served on NPC’s board of directors for two years before being elected to the executive committee, where he was vice president of the grower and public relations committee as well as the finance and office procedures committee. Crane also serves on the Maine Potato Seed Board and the Maine Potato Growers board of directors, and has been a local school board member for 16 years. He and his wife Becky have three children. 

Crane’s top policy priorities for the upcoming year include modifying the proposed Women, Infants and Children (WIC) rule that bans participants from using WIC vouchers to purchase fresh white potatoes—the only vegetable excluded from the program.

The 2012 Farm Bill will also be an area of significant focus. “Our efforts on the 2012 Farm Bill will be critical if we are to ensure the continuation of long-term pest and disease research funding levels. This funding is important if we are to address new production challenges, whether they are caused by Zebra Chip, late blight or acrylamide,” Crane says.

Tom Fricke, HMSHost

Tom Fricke has joined HMSHost as president and CEO, effective January 16, 2012.  For more than 20 years, Fricke has served in a variety of substantial leadership roles, most recently as the CEO of Cartridge World.

While at Cartridge World—one of the largest retailers of remanufactured ink and toner cartridges—Fricke oversaw 1,700 units operating in 63 countries.

In addition to his experience leading Cartridge World, Fricke brings an abundance of hands-on experience with PepsiCo, Home Depot and Giant Eagle grocery stores. He has lived and worked abroad in strategic positions, most notably with PepsiCo in Sydney, Australia, and with Frito-Lay in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Fricke is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, where he completed his studies with a BS in mechanical engineering. Upon graduation, he served as a Naval Intelligence Officer. After several additional assignments, Fricke left the Navy to attend Stanford University, where he earned an MBA.

Locally in the Washington, DC, market, HMSHost operates restaurants and retail stores at Washington’s Dulles International and National Airports, at Thurgood Marshall Baltimore-Washington International Airport, and in the Maryland and Chesapeake travel plazas along I-95.

The company also runs restaurants in the foodcourts of Arundel Mills Mall and the Leesburg Premium Outlets. HMSHost employs approximately 1000 associates throughout Maryland and Northern Virginia.

Emily Williams Knight, Kendall College

The Kendall College board of directors has named Emily Williams Knight president of Kendall College.

Knight brings more than 15 years of experience in the education and hospitality industry to her role at Kendall College.

Dr. Karen Gersten, who served as president of Kendall College since 2010, has been named vice president of academic affairs in the institutional quality and integrity unit of the global products and services group at Laureate Education, Inc.

Knight joined Laureate Education, Inc. in 2011 as a vice president responsible for globally expanding access to the company’s hospitality-management, culinary-arts and art-and-design programs. She previously was the CEO of New England University LLC.

She formerly worked at Pearson Education for more than 10 years, most recently serving as vice president of marketing and sales strategies for Pearson Teacher Education and Development.

Early in her career, Knight taught business courses at Montgomery County Community College in Pennsylvania. She also worked as an executive meeting manager at Marriott’s Key West Resorts in Florida.

“Emily’s experience and leadership skills make her a natural choice for the role of president. Her passion and relentless energy will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the future of Kendall College,” says David Graves, chief executive officer of Laureate Hospitality, Art and Design.

“We are fortunate to have Emily at the helm, continuing to make Kendall College a leading institution of higher education in hospitality management, culinary arts, business and early childhood education.”

Knight graduated from Troy University with an MS in management. She holds a BS in hospitality administration from Boston University, where she was an academic trustee scholar, and an AS in hospitality administration from Newbury College, where she was a presidential scholar and graduated first in her class. Knight and her husband, Alec, have six-year-old twin girls.

Megan McKenna, National Mango Board

On January 1, 2012, Megan McKenna stepped into the role as director of marketing for the National Mango Board (NMB).

Hired in April 2007 as marketing specialist, McKenna proved a natural fit to plan and manage the NMB’s marketing initiatives and, as a result, was promoted to marketing manager in 2009.

In 2008 when the NMB sought to raise its profile in the foodservice channel, McKenna stepped up to manage the foodservice marketing and promotions program.

She participated enthusiastically with the International Foodservice Editorial Council (IFEC), and was elected first to that group’s board for 2010, then to the role of vice president for 2011, and currently serves as president. McKenna was also recognized by Produce Business as a “40 Under Forty” honoree in 2011.

Throughout her nearly five years in the mango industry, McKenna worked closely with the NMB’s prior director of marketing, Wendy McManus. The two teamed up to guide the NMB’s successful nationwide marketing efforts that included innovative year-round consumer, retail, and trade media programs.




Industry News, Labor & Employees, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store