The wait is nearly over as around 100 people celebrated Friday at a pre-opening ribbon cutting and breakfast at Cracker Barrel, which will officially open Monday in the Enos Ranch development.

“This has been a long time coming for some of us,” said Dan Schneider, who serves as general manager of the Santa Maria location.

With a pair of novelty oversized scissors, he cut through a red ribbon as local officials and business leaders looked on.

The restaurant will open to the public at 6 a.m. Monday. The Santa Maria store is the 659th location across 45 states and only the third Cracker Barrel location in California, following openings in Victorville and Sacramento last year.

Schneider said visitors to Cracker Barrel can expect warm, friendly service and traditional Southern comfort food like cornbread, country fried steak and fried catfish.

“It’s Southern homestyle cooking,” he said. “It’s comfort food — like something you may have had at grandma’s house when you were growing up. Meatloaf, chicken and dumplings, a lot of really great fish, trout, haddock and great burgers as well.”

Schneider said the restaurant did not have a specific signature item and that each location develops its own favorites. 

“I’ve been able to work in five different locations and each one of them has their own favorites,” he said. “Our chicken and dumplings — people do talk about those from all over, and our biscuits and gravy. But it depends on where you’re at.”

The floor space of the building is split roughly equally between the restaurant and a store, which will stock toys, games, clothing, food and candy, sports apparel, accessories, novelty decor items and woodcrafts. The building’s front porch features numerous outdoor rocking chairs.

Schneider said each Cracker Barrel has a unique decor and that the Santa Maria store was decorated with elements to celebrate the local agriculture industry and California in general, like old farming equipment and images of classic Hollywood.

Friday's event was attended by officials from Cracker Barrel's corporate office as well as community and business leaders from the the Santa Maria Valley, including Santa Barbara County 4th District Supervisor Peter Adam, former Santa Maria Community Development Director Larry Appel and City Councilwoman Gloria Soto. 

Following the ribbon cutting, attendees were invited in to enjoy a preview breakfast before the restaurant's official opening.

Soto said she was pleased to see another business become a part of the Santa Maria community.

“Today is an exciting day for Santa Maria and our new neighbors at Cracker Barrel,” she said. “We’re glad to welcome new businesses to our community, especially ones that align with our Santa Maria style of doing business — it’s friendly and with good service.”

Suzanne Singh, economic development director at the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce, noted the number of new full- and part-time jobs that were created by the restaurant and store.

“I do want to note that 225 people just got jobs from Cracker Barrel opening — that is amazing,” she said, to applause and cheers.

Community Development Director Chuen Ng said it was nice to see Cracker Barrel ready to open following the excitement it had generated among city residents.

“When I first started with the city two years ago, people had already started talking about Cracker Barrel as part of the Enos Ranch project,” Ng said. “There were a lot of people looking with anticipation for it to open, so we always got calls for updates on where they were in the permit process. So it’s good to see it finally open.”

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Razi Syed covers Santa Maria City Government for Lee Central Coast Newspapers.  Follow him on Twitter @razisyed