GOSHEN, Ind. (FOX 13) - An Indiana couple is just one Cracker Barrel shy of visiting every one of its stores across the United States.
Ray Yoder began the accidental journey as a driver for an RV company nearly 40 years ago. When the kids were grown, Yoder began to take his wife, Wilma, on his treks across the country, stopping at Cracker Barrels along the way.
They used a Cracker Barrel checklist to mark off each location they visited.
Decades later, they're close to having visited all 645 locations, except for one.
"We were founded in 1969, he started in the '70s," said Breeanna Straessle, manager of corporate communications for Cracker Barrel. "He keeps getting really close and we keep opening more stores."
The store the couple has yet to visit is outside Portland, Oregon, in a town called Tualatin. There are two more stores set to open near that location by next year, so Straessle says the 80-year-old couple plans to check them off all in one visit.
Straessle says she tells the Yoders ahead of time when they're opening a new store so Ray could plan his trip around it. When the couple visits, Straessle says the staff is excited to meet them, and they give them the VIP treatment.
"They're part of our family now, basically," Straessle said.
In the past year, the store has started inviting them to ribbon-cutting ceremonies so they can check a store off their list immediately.
"Ray has become like my surrogate grandfather," Straessle added. "They're just really sweet people."