Cracker Barrel’s CEO made one shocking confession that had all hell breaking loose

May 29, 2024

Cracker Barrel is beloved for its down-home southern cooking.

But not everything is well at the chain. 

And Cracker Barrel’s CEO made one shocking confession that had all hell breaking loose.

Cracker Barrel is struggling coming out of the pandemic 

For many Americans, a stop at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store is a staple of any summer road trip.

But things aren’t going well for the popular roadside stop.

Seniors – a core customer base for the chain – haven’t returned since the pandemic ended and inflation began to take off.

Nation’s Restaurant News reported that Cracker Barrel suffered “several quarters of dwindling numbers — including, most recently, 4% traffic decline for the second quarter ended Jan. 26.”

New Cracker Barrel CEO Julie Felss Masino admitted that the brand is struggling during an earnings call with investors.

“We’re just not as relevant as we once were,” Masino said. “Some of our recipes and processes haven’t evolved in decades.”

The company’s stock is down nearly 20% as the chain scrambles to regain its footing coming out of the pandemic.

Cracker Barrel added alcohol sales at the majority of its locations during the pandemic in 2020 to boost traffic. 

Masino vowed to spend $700 million over the next three years in a bid to turn things around by changing its marketing, updating its menu, and “refreshing the interior and exterior” with a “different color palette.”

The menu update will see some of the longstanding items replaced with new items like “premium savory chicken and rice, slow-braised pot roast and hashbrown casserole Shepherd’s Pie.”

“Cracker Barrel is an iconic brand, but even iconic brands have to evolve,” Masino explained. “We know from our research that despite high levels of consumer affinity, we’re just not as relevant as we once were. We need to address these dynamics by refreshing and refining the brand and reflecting this in all of the ways we interact with our guests . . . we will take what is known and beloved about our differentiated brand and build upon it so that it’s more relevant to today’s and tomorrow’s guests.”

Cracker Barrel to focus on value as it refreshes the brand

Inflation-weary customers are more price-conscious than ever.

That’s why Masino said that optimizing pricing will be a big part of the refresh.

“We believe there’s a large opportunity to improve the way we price both across the menu and across doors to hit the sweet spot where pricing at a store is optimized based on consumer willingness to pay competitor prices and store operating costs,” Masino said. “We understand the lower-end consumer is challenged, and value is and will remain an important part of the brand. We will work vigorously to protect it.”

Cracker Barrel is going to lean into technology and its rewards program as it tries to connect with younger consumers.

Truist analyst Jake Bartlett told The New York Post that some of Cracker Barrel’s management didn’t offer much in the way of specifics for its turnaround plan.

“A big reason the stock is down is that there wasn’t much of a plan,” Bartlett said. “They announced a plan for a plan but they didn’t give investors enough information to judge whether reinvesting in the stores was a credible plan to address the traffic losses.”

Cracker Barrel came under fire last year for going woke by celebrating LGBTQ Pride month with rainbow-themed rocking chairs.

Fans of the iconic roadside eatery will be hoping that what made it great isn’t lost in the chain’s refresh.

Read All About It will keep you up-to-date on any developments to this ongoing story. 

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