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Hatcher finds second family while serving up country fixin’s

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By Cindy Simpson

Ethel Hatcher started working at Cracker Barrel to help her daughter through school.

She has stayed on more than three decades after she found a second family among the many employees she’s met along the way.

Hatcher is 80 years old and has been working as a hostess at the country-cooking mainstay in Harriman since 1982.

The mother of two sons — and then two daughters 14 years later — Hatcher currently works one or two days a week.

“I just stayed,” Hatcher said. “Cracker Barrel has been like my family. So many people come in and give you a hug and say, ‘I’m glad you are still here. You waited on me 25 years ago.’ It feels good.

“I don’t have to work, but it gives me something to look forward to,” she added.

Ethel has one of the hardest jobs in the place, juggling both orders and plates

“I started out in backup (cook), and then I went to a server,” Hatcher said.

She’s met a lot of people over the years and sees a lot of familiar faces among her regulars.

Just don’t ask her to name them all.

“We know so many people by their face. A lot of people we don’t know by name,” Hatcher said.