Along with new items and LTOs, the company will launch the first phase of its breakfast menu evolution, which is centered around consolidation and a build-your-own option. Tate said the menu will give Cracker Barrel room for new craveable items to feature in marketing and opportunities to offer premium products. Consumers should find the menu easier to navigate and servers should find it easier to learn. The company spent the past couple of years going through the same processes with its dinner menu.
The brand is also continuing its beer and wine program and making progress toward its goal of 2 percent dine-in mix. The lineup has grown through enhanced selling, in-store marketing, and new seasonal offerings.
As for Cracker Barrel’s weaknesses, guests told the brand it can do better with technology. The chain is hearing this from younger generations; roughly 30 percent of its guest base are millennials between 25 and 44.
So in April, the chain rolled out pay at the table via QR code, and later in Q4, it will launch Apple Pay and Google Pay. Additionally, the company is enhancing its digital store and revamping its app to streamline the ordering process and provide a more personalized experience.
There are even talks of releasing a loyalty program.
“With regard to loyalty, we believe this could be particularly impactful for our brand with our strong guest engagement, travel guest, and both restaurant and retail offerings, which will allow us to offer creative and unusually appealing rewards over and above new discounting. Given the investment here, we are approaching it prudently and thoughtfully,” Tate said. “And we'll have more to share with you about this initiative in the future, but we're optimistic about its potential to drive frequency and check growth.”
Off-premises will be a growth driver for newer customers, especially Gen Z and millennials. In Q3, sales outside the four walls remained significantly elevated compared to pre-COVID figures. Off-premises mixed 19 percent, fueled by year-over-year growth in catering and third-party delivery, offset by declines in to-go sales as guests returned to dine-in.
To best communicate all of these initiatives, Cracker Barrel will send targeted messages through digital and social channels.
“We are very bullish that we have a brand that stretches across generations and that we have the ability to do what we do well even better and to offer enhancements that both our core and other key guest groups want,” Tate said.