Cracker Barrel is making some big changes that have fans up in arms

Jun 25, 2024

Cracker Barrel’s new CEO admitted the brand is dealing with a crisis. 

The beloved family dining chain is undergoing a dramatic transformation. 

Now Cracker Barrel is making some big changes that have fans up in arms.

Cracker Barrel’s CEO vows big changes to turn around the chain 

The pandemic battered the restaurant industry when indoor dining was shut down and then restricted.

Crack Barrel still hasn’t regained the foot traffic that it had before the pandemic.

The chain lagged in catching up to the trend of take-out orders and delivery through third-party apps like DoorDash.

Cracker Barrel CEO Julie Felss Masino admitted that the chain “has lost some of its shine” earlier this year.

“We’re just not as relevant as we once were,” Masino said in May.

Now Cracker Barrel is undergoing a $700 million update over the next three years along with changes to how the chain operates.

The chain is planning on keeping many of its staples but items are going to be removed in a bid to simplify the menu and operations.

And new menu items are being tested for a potential nationwide rollout.

Bee Sting Chicken Tenders and a Bee Sting Chicken Sandwich – topped with honey glaze to give it a sweet heat – are debuting for a limited time run through summer.

“Innovation will continue to fuel relevancy in our menu for our guests,” Masino said during a February earnings call.

Cracker Barrel is also going to see higher prices as the chain deals with rising inflation.

“We believe there is a large opportunity to improve the way we price,” Masino said.

Prices will be based on a restaurant’s location and the market it’s in.

Higher-income areas will have higher menu prices.

Cracker Barrel CFO Craig Pommells predicted that menu prices would climb by 5% for the rest of 2024.

Masino said that the chain has a balancing act with raising prices versus losing its value for customers.

“Price is a powerful lever, but it’s also something that’s really recognizable for consumers and comparable to other experiences that they’re having out there,” Masino said. “So as we talked, we’ve been really maniacal about thinking about how we protect value while making sure that we take price in a way that better sets us up for success and better flows through.”

Cracker Barrel interiors are getting a refresh 

The interior of Cracker Barrel restaurants has stayed the same for decades.

Masino said that the chain needs to change with the times.

Cracker Barrel has begun a pilot program to test renovations at select locations.

Test locations will see more lighting, new seating, and fewer items on the wall for a simplified look.

“The guests and employee feedback has been highly encouraging,” Masino explained. “Guests have commented that the new design feels lighter, brighter, fresher, and cleaner and that they are especially excited in one of our remodels about having booths and banquettes as seating options.”

Cracker Barrel became a fan favorite for its southern-style comfort food and classic décor.

Time will tell if revamping the chain’s formula will lead to a turnaround.

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