American restaurant chain Cracker Barrel Old Country Store is set to invest $700m in a comprehensive brand overhaul aimed at revitalising its operations, menu and customer perception, Restaurant Business Online has reported.

The initiative comes as the company faces a 16% year-to-date decline in guest counts, with a notable decrease in dinner traffic.

The investment plan is spread between the fiscal years 2025 to 2029, with a budget ranging from $160m to $180m for 2025, $180m to $220m for fiscal 2026 and $260m to $300m for fiscal 2027.

The overhaul will address the brand’s loss of market share to competitors, who are excelling in areas such as menu appeal, value, convenience and overall guest experience, the re

Cracker Barrel CEO Julie Masino described the rejuvenation effort as touching virtually every aspect of the concept.

Masino said: “We generally rank in the middle of the peer set, and we do not lead in any of these areas.”

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“The core problem is we’re just not as relevant as we once were.”

The plan includes 20 initiatives in four main areas, aiming to modernise the brand while maintaining its nostalgic ambiance.

Ten stores are trialling a new menu that builds on Cracker Barrel’s reputation for scratch-made homestyle foods while incorporating contemporary tastes.

New dishes such as shepherd’s pie casserole, slow-braised pot roast and creamy chicken and rice are being tested.

The company is updating its preparation processes to simplify operations. It will no longer cut vegetables and fruits by hand and will streamline its menu by removing less popular items.

Masino also highlighted the need for more aggressive market-customised pricing. In test markets with tailored pricing, the average check increased by 3%.

The brand is also investing in the maintenance and functionality of its stores. Two locations have tested a renovation package that has been well-received by guests.

The chain is exploring a new, smaller store prototype that maintains the same seating capacity, which could facilitate long-term growth.

An industrial engineering firm has been hired to optimise the efficiency of new stores.

Despite the growth in delivery and to-go services, particularly through holiday catering programmes, Cracker Barrel sees potential for further expansion in this area.

The company plans to continue investing in digital enhancements, including its loyalty programme, which has attracted five million members since its launch.