Cracker Barrel (CBRL) isn’t a household name for many, but for others it is their mainstay when it comes to good ol’ country home cookin’. Either way, Cracker Barrel is a business and wanted to expand its product and possibly its customer base by adding another option on the menu, so it added a popular choice as of recent years: plant-based sausage.
Cracker Barrel Customers Don't Like The Change
Cracker Barrel customer's base has voiced their opinion, and they not only don’t want to try the new plant-based sausage, but they don’t want anyone to. The customers can still order the regular sausage that has always been available at the restaurant, but they seem upset that there is now an option for non meat-eating diners.
Cracker Barrel is known for its old-fashioned home cooking and the menu shows it -- the breakfast classic combinations are called "Old Timer’s Breakfast," "Grandpa’s Country Fried Breakfast," and the "Cracker Barrel’s Country Boy Breakfast."
The plant-based sausage is $3.89 and the chain's original smoked sausage patties are $3.69, so they are slightly more expensive, but otherwise there's not much different about the two options. However, price doesn't seem to be the part that's upsetting customers.
What This Change Means for Cracker Barrel
According to some of the restaurant's customer base who've voiced their opinion on social media about the added choice on the menu, they feel that making this an option for customers has completely ruined their perception of the restaurant they have grown to love.
Cracker Barrel is not new to controversial issues, as it has previously been charged and settled lawsuits regarding discrimination. The lawsuit, which was filed by more than 40 people, claimed that Black customers were subjected to racial slurs and seated away from other White customers. It also made claims of poor service and ill-prepared food. It left a black mark on the chain's reputation, forcing it to consider making Cracker Barrel a more friendly place for all customers.
Today, Cracker Barrel is making small steps in its strategic journey towards diversity and inclusion. Customers may not realize it, but their favorite home cooked meal is made by a company that is working towards offering these concepts for its employees, and now its customer base. It isn’t a move made to anger, but a strategic move to help the business thrive.
All businesses had a steep decline in 2020 as the pandemic roared through the economy. Cracker Barrel was no different, and the restaurant has been working on bringing back its business ever since. The restaurant bounced back in 2021 and has been on a slow decline ever since, with its stock price roughly 45% lower than it was pre-pandemic.
Such dips sound the alarm on the corporate side of Cracker Barrel, which decided to reach out to a new, more health-conscious customer base. It's a sensible move, since the historic customer base has proven to be not enough to maintain the business in its current position. But one thing is for sure: the latter folks don't care for the change one bit.