Cracker Barrel CEO says restaurant chain has lost relevancy, eyes menu changes and remodeling

Cracker Barrel, America’s iconic “old country store,” could soon see changes as the new CEO eyes ways to make the company “more relevant” amid slipping stocks and declines among its loyal clientele over the past few years. 

“We’re just not as relevant as we once were,” Julie Felss Masino, who took over as CEO of the Tennessee-based company nine months ago, said during a recent investor call, according to CBS News.

“Some of our recipes and processes haven’t evolved in decades,” she added.

What does that mean for customers? A fresh image and new menu items are some things to anticipate. The restaurant and gift store chain, which has more than 600 locations nationwide, is known for its southern country vibe and comfort food menu.

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The company unveiled a multi-faceted $700 million plan to draw in new diners, according to CBS, starting with a rebrand and with test runs of new menu items, including green chili cornbread, banana pudding and hash brown casserole shepherd’s pie, across multiple locations.

“The brand has lost some of its shine,” Masino said during the recent call. She emphasized the need for the company to “evolve” and said the company is looking to change its colors and overall image while keeping true to its iconic rustic charm.

Reports indicate the chain’s largest customer demographic — those 65 and older — hasn’t returned since they stopped dining at Cracker Barrel locations at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Cracker Barrel store exterior

“The goal, simply put, was to freshen things in such a way as to be noticeable and attractive but still feel like Cracker Barrel,” Masino said, according to CBS.

She said feedback on the changes has been generally positive.

Customers could potentially see price changes in some areas as the chain eyes raising costs at some locations while cutting back at others. Still, Masino assured Cracker Barrel would not deviate from its dedication to value.

According to the New York Post, however, management does not expect to see its investments pay off until the second half of 2026 and 2027.

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