A Cracker Barrel restaurant is proposed in California in the Park Place development at Route 235 and Shady Mile Drive. It would join Red Robin and Olive Garden.
The Cracker Barrel won't be open this year, though, as it has just begun the review process with the St. Mary's County Department of Land Use and Growth Management.
Cracker Barrels are often found off interstate highways, but that is changing as the restaurant chain has been moving into smaller markets. "It's been happening more over the years," said Byron Bohrman, engineer for Cracker Barrel. He said there is no timetable for this restaurant yet.
Planners had issues with the project as presented. Looking at the overall appearance, environmental review planner Sue Veith asked if the building was a stepped-down version of Cracker Barrel restaurants elsewhere. "It's their brand-new building," Bohrman said. The plan didn't show many windows, and Veith said that wouldn't fly.
Planning staff and the property's developer disagreed over what level of review the restaurant's plans will need. The site already has concept site plan approval and doesn't need to go to the planning commission, but planners want the restaurant to go through the technical evaluation committee. Jay Hopson, representing Park Place, said the pad site didn't need it because an office building for SAIC going on the property didn't go through the TEC.
Planner Dave Berry said Red Robin and Olive Garden went through TEC review. "They went incorrectly. None of these pad sites require TEC," Hopson said.
"What's your objection to TEC?" said Derick Berlage, director of land use and growth management.
"The six weeks I'm down," Hopson said. However, he said, "I'm sure Cracker Barrel has no issue going to TEC."
There is also a Cracker Barrel proposed in Waldorf. The restaurants are open seven days a week, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The company has locations in 44 states.
The California location would also would have 177 seats and have a gift shop. The building would be 8,460 square feet, larger than the Red Robin.