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Cracker Barrel is Remodeling Dozens of Restaurants to Win Back Customers

The remodels are part of “strategic transformation plan” amid declining guest counts.

Cracker Barrel has been losing customers for over a year as budget-conscious diners across America cut back on eating out. To win them back, the chain is undergoing a major transformation that will revamp a key part of its business: the restaurants.

On May 16, Cracker Barrel announced that it is currently testing various restaurant remodels aimed at improving the customer experience. The company said it expects to remodel 25 to 30 of its locations during its 2025 fiscal year, which will kick off late in the summer of 2024.

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During a conference call, CEO Julie Felss Masino said they'd recently begun testing a couple of changes at two restaurants, including a different color palette, different lighting, more comfortable seating, and simplified decor and fixtures. They also tweaked the organization of their retail area and replaced the traditional lattice dividers with open bookcases "that open up the sightlines and allow for different displays," Masino said.

"The goal, simply put, was to freshen things in such a way as to be noticeable and attractive but still feel like Cracker Barrel."

According to the CEO, the changes are already garnering a positive reaction.

Cracker Barrel interior
4kclips / Shutterstock

"The guests and employee feedback has been highly encouraging," she said. "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. Just as important, our employees in these locations are enthusiastic about the investments we've made and have a renewed spring in their step as a result."

Cracker Barrel will use the test remodels to figure out which changes are the most popular with customers and "most likely to lift traffic," Masino added. It will then use what it has learned from the tests to make plans for the future.

The restaurant remodels are only one aspect of a sweeping "strategic transformation plan" underway at Cracker Barrel right now to boost its profits and popularity amid declining customer traffic and store closures. The transformation initiative includes growing its digital business, enhancing the Cracker Barrel brand to boost its appeal to customers, and improving the employee experience by upgrading training programs and simplifying job roles.

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The chain is also focusing on enhancing its menu by improving the execution of food preparation and developing enticing new options. For example, Cracker Barrel just launched a handful of new limited-time summer options, including sweet and spicy Bee Sting Chicken Tenders (820 calories), a 10-ounce New York Strip Steak (470 calories), and Watermelon Lemonade (270 calories).

"I am excited about our strategic transformation plans to drive relevancy, deliver food and experiences guests love, and grow profitability. Cracker Barrel is an iconic brand with an exceptionally strong foundation, and I firmly believe our plans will allow us to capitalize on our strengths and deliver long-term success," Masino said in a statement on May 16.

Zoe Strozewski
Zoe Strozewski is a News Writer for Eat This, Not That! A Chicago native who now lives in New Jersey, she graduated from Kean University in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Read more about Zoe