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Restaurants continue to struggle for normalcy after the COVID-19 pandemic, with the news of Red Lobster closing more than 100 restaurants highlighting the restaurant industry’s struggles to rebound. Cracker Barrel, another iconic American Brand, is sharing similar concerns as new CEO Julie Felss Masino prepares the restaurant for a massive rebranding. “We’re just not as relevant as we once were. Some of our recipes and processes haven’t evolved in decades,” Masino reportedly said during an investor call. The company has drafted up a $700 million plan for a rebrand, hoping to draw in new diners. The brand has been most popular with the 65 and over crowd, which hasn’t returned in the same numbers as before the pandemic. The chain is experiencing a 16% decline. Stock has also declined 40%. Competitors also account for some of the losses. “[W]e are not leading in any area. [T]he reality is we’ve lost some market share, especially at dinner,” said Masino.

Some of the intended changes involve updates to the menu, some of which are already being tested in select locations. Two new items being tested are green chili cornbread and banana pudding. Other planned items include hashbrown casserole shepherd’s pie and slow-braised pot roast. Masino also indicated that there will be changes to the restaurant’s appearance as well, which may include decreasing space without losing seating and lightening up each site’s appearance. “The goal, simply put, was to freshen things in such a way as to be noticeable and attractive but still feel like Cracker Barrel,” said Masino. In an economy continuing to be plagued by inflation, pricing will see changes as well. “I want to emphasize that optimizing our price points across the menu doesn’t mean just increasing prices,” said Masino. “In several places, it may actually mean taking the opposite approach. We understand the lower-end consumer is challenged and value is and will remain an important part of the brand and we will work vigorously to protect it.”

Restaurants have also seen an uptick in to-go and off-site ordering, and that’s an area Masino intends to expand as well. The chain has found some success in its holiday catering as well, which the chain hopes to capitalize on. These changes will not return immediate results, however. Masino is not expecting returns until 2026 or 2027. “We simply have to invest in the future,” she said.

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