Sweeping Changes For Cracker Barrel in 2022

Joel Eisenberg

Though the company has generally remained a high-achiever, recent developments have hastened changes for the duration of the current calendar year.

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Cracker Barrel Old Country StoreShutterstock

Author’s Note

This article is based on corporate postings and accredited media reports. Linked information within this article is attributed to the following outlets: RestaurantClicks.com, Wikipedia.org, ScrapeHero.com, CrackerBarrel.com, RestaurantBusinessOnline.com, and FSRMagazine.com.

Introduction

On June 9, NewsBreak published “Plans For Cracker Barrel Closings in 2022,” my article addressing persistent rumors of closure for the longstanding chain.

Excerpted in the article was the following: RestaurantClicks.com directly addressed long-standing rumors regarding Cracker Barrel going out of business. The trade website’s March, 2022 article, “The Truth Behind Rumors of Cracker Barrel Closing,” states: While Cracker Barrel was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic like many other restaurants were, the good news is that Cracker Barrel is as healthy a choice as one of its home-cooked vegetable dishes, or maybe even healthier. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store saw revenue growth year over year of more than 11 percent and total revenue of $862.26 million. Wall Street analysts rate its stock, CBRL, a hold. That doesn’t sound like a company that’s closing.

The RestaurantClicks.com piece went on to discuss reason for the rumors, which included not only the pandemic, but a myriad of lawsuits related to workplace and customer discrimination, and repeated safety violations. Yet the company has proven resilient, and appears to be in prime financial health.

However, Cracker Barrel did take a hit in the eyes of the public, and partially in response they have instituted several sweeping changes for the current calendar year.

Let us explore further.

Cracker Barrel, 2022

Wikipedia features a comprehensive overview of the Cracker Barrel chain: Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc., doing business as Cracker Barrel, is an American chain of restaurant and gift stores with a Southern country theme. The company was founded by Dan Evins in 1969; its first store was in Lebanon, Tennessee. The corporate offices are located at a different facility in the same city. The chain's stores were at first positioned near Interstate Highway exits in the Southeastern and Midwestern United States, but expanded across the country during the 1990s and 2000s.

According to ScrapeHero.com: There are 667 Cracker Barrel locations in the United States as of July 11, 2022. The state with the most number of Cracker Barrel locations in the US is Florida, with 60 locations, which is 8% of all Cracker Barrel locations in America.

It should be noted the number of locations has since increased by two from the time of my previous Cracker Barrel article, linked above.

In terms of the sweeping changes presently being implemented by the company, there are several.

On June 21, CrackerBarrel.com issued a press release to substantial fanfare, entitled “Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Upgrades All-Day, Homestyle Breakfast Offerings with New Menu Format, Selections.”

From the release: Cracker Barrel Old Country Store announced today it is expanding its famous, all-day breakfast menu to offer even more variety and personalization. The new Build Your Own Homestyle Breakfast format allows guests to customize their experience just the way they want it. Further diversifying its breakfast offerings, Cracker Barrel is also adding Impossible Sausage™ Made From Plants to the menu as its first plant-based meat option, as well as a Stuffed Cheesecake Pancake Breakfast for those looking for a sweet treat any time of day.

On February 22, RestaurantBusinessOnline.com, in their piece titled “Cracker Barrel Changes Its Approach to Menu Pricing,“ reported potentially unwelcome news: As the costs of food and labor continue to rise for Cracker Barrel, the chain is planning to raise its menu prices over the next several months, joining just about every restaurant in the country in doing so. But the family-dining chain that prides itself on everyday value is treading lightly around a 6% increase for the third and fourth fiscal quarters to avoid scaring off price-sensitive consumers.“Instead of doing two big increases, which is historically what we have done, now we're doing more small, incremental pricing moves,” CEO Sandra Cochran told analysts Tuesday. That will allow the chain to monitor how its customers react to the higher prices—and cancel them if traffic or menu mix starts to move in the wrong direction.

Finally, an archived September, 2021 article from trade site FSRMagazine.com, “Cracker Barrel Initiates Recovery Plan After Sluggish Sales,” elucidated further upcoming changes. In addition to an increase in their beer and wine program, the article listed an improved company-wide digital presence: The chain's first digital brand, Chicken ‘n Biscuits, was expanded to 100 stores at the end of August. Pleased with the concept’s performance thus far, the company expects the virtual brand to reach roughly 500 locations by the end of Q1. As that product expands, Cracker Barrel will introduce a second concept, Pancake Kitchen, in roughly 100 stores.

Like most restaurants, Cracker Barrel has been impacted by the pandemic, inflation, and supply shortages, including a loss of labor. They will continue to take multiple actions throughout the duration of the current calendar year to strategically maintain their business efficacy.

Conclusion

Though Cracker Barrel has largely remained a high business achiever, according to most metrics, the above-listed items caused challenges both expected and unexpected that hastened various company changes.

I will update readers here, on NewsBreak, in the event of breaking developments.

Thank you for reading.

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I am an award-winning author, screenwriter for film and television, and producer. My mission on News Break is to share socially important perspectives on both culture and pop-culture. Member of PEN America, and the WGA.

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