We live in an era when brands want to be people, too, from quirky social media accounts to razor companies coming out as woke. To the latter, we can now add…Cracker Barrel? On Wednesday it was revealed that the Southern-themed restaurant chain had put the kibosh on an anti-gay pastor who wanted to hold an event at one of their locations, prompting online delight as well as surprise.
The chain — which allows patrons to chill in rocking chairs before devouring “sawmill gravy” and, on the way out, buying one of those wooden dogs with flappy feet you push around on a stick — came out against one Grayson Fitts, a Tennessee pastor and also a county police detective. As per CNN, Fitts was planning an event for his congregation, the All Scripture Baptist Church, at one of the restaurant’s Tennessee locations. Also of note: Back in early June Fitts, in a (since deleted) video posted on the church’s website, called for the execution of LGBTQ people.
After the Tennessee Democratic Party learned of Fitts’ Cracker Barrel to-do, they publicly let the chain’s social media know. And lo and behold, Cracker Barrel took action.
In a statement posted to Twitter, the company announced that Fitts and his congregation would “not be permitted on site.” They went on to say, “At Cracker Barrel, we work hard to foster a culture that is welcoming and inclusive,” then cited their “zero-tolerance policy for discriminatory treatment or harassment of any sort.
“We take pride in serving as a home away from home for all guests and in showing our communities and our country that the hospitality we practice is open for everyone,” the company added. “We serve everyone who walks through our doors with genuine hospitality, not hate, and require all guests to do the same.”
The move is an about-face from the early ’90s, when the chain came under fire for anti-LGBTQ practices, including firing employees who did not display “normal heterosexual values.” By 2013, however, the company had evolved so much that they pulled Duck Dynasty products from their shelves after star Phil Robertson made homophobic comments.