Getting rich is the last thing most people think about when they're eating at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store (NASDAQ:CBRL). But sooner or later, that's going to change.

The reason is simple. In addition to serving "honest-to-goodness homestyle meals prepared from scratch," it's making people extremely rich.

Take a look at the chart below. In the three decades since 1985, Cracker Barrel's stock has returned a total of 10,537%. Had you invested a mere $10,000 in the Tennessee-based company's stock in March of that year, it would be worth more than $1 million today!


How did Cracker Barrel accomplish this?

In the first case, the number of Cracker Barrel locations has exploded since Dan Evins opened the original location in Lebanon, TN in 1969. As the company's website tells it, "people liked Cracker Barrel and word got around." Fast forward to today, and there are more than 600 stores in 42 states.

Even more important than explosive growth, however, is the fact that Cracker Barrel has taken great care of shareholders over the years, serving up heaping platefuls of dividends and share buybacks. With only a few exceptions, it's paid dividends every quarter since the mid-1980s. And over the last decade alone, its outstanding share count has been sliced in half.

The net result, as I said at the beginning, is that long-term shareholders in Cracker Barrel have a lot more to be thankful for than simply a generous portion of comfort food. They're rich, and it's all because of Cracker Barrel.

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John Maxfield has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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