The New Way Cracker Barrel Is Modernizing Its Dining Rooms

When you think of Cracker Barrel as a concept, the word "modern" doesn't really fit in. The concept of Cracker Barrel is meant to reflect an old-time country store, one that sells knick-knacks, penny candy, and serves down-home comfort food. While other restaurants pride themselves on having the most TV screens so you can watch the Super Bowl or some big-name Hollywood star promoting them, Cracker Barrel seems to go in the opposite direction and instead advertises itself as a place to sit back, relax, and eat some buttermilk biscuits.

While that's all fine and well on its own, Cracker Barrel, unfortunately, can't hide from the modern world forever. With changing times and a world that's increasingly on the go, the old country store has to step into the twenty-first century sooner or later. This is why, according to the restaurant itself, a new option to pay is being rolled out — mobile payment. Although this concept isn't entirely "new," considering places such as Olive Garden have used electronic payment options using tablets since 2015 (via PR Newswire), the idea of scanning a QR code and paying from your mobile phone is a concept that Cracker Barrel hasn't really explored until now. 

But is this really Cracker Barrel's first step toward modernity? Does Cracker Barrel have any other plans to "modernize" its restaurants? How would a chain known for its simple, farm-to-table atmosphere be able to survive in a world that demands more convenience and entertainment?

Can Cracker Barrel continue to exist in a more demanding time?

What if you were to walk into your local Cracker Barrel to find that all of the old knick-knacks and farm tools that hang on the dining room wall have been replaced with TV screens advertising a "#farmlife?" While something like that may never happen (though, you never know nowadays), it does raise the question — can Cracker Barrel really remain the successful "old country store" forever or will it have to shake things up to draw in the customers?

According to a 2018 report from FSR Magazine, Cracker Barrel was suffering from a bout of poor revenue and foot traffic. Attempts to "maintain relevance" through the introduction of certain dishes with "unexpected flavor twists" like S'mores Latte or Roasted Sweet Glazed Chicken didn't turn out so very hot, as customers seemed to have little to no interest in flavor twists. To try and win back customers, the chain would instead focus on cheap prices in order to stand out from other fast-casual and breakfast restaurants.

Restaurant Business Online, however, reports that Cracker Barrel had begun to focus on trying to draw in certain types of customers with an "elevated" but pricier experience, using premium items such as "build-your-own-breakfast" and a focus on online payment options like Apple Pay.  

It seems that Cracker Barrel is doing its best to try and balance the "Americana-country" atmosphere with the demands of the modern public. Time will tell what other innovations the chain will introduce.