In a surprise announcement, family dining chain Cracker Barrel revealed July 23 it has entered into a strategic partnership with Denver-based Punch Bowl Social.
Cracker Barrel plans on investing as much as $140 million and taking on a non-controlling position in the eatertainment brand. The agreement allows Cracker Barrel to acquire a controlling position or full ownership of Punch Bowl Social if it chooses to in the future.
The investment in Punch Bowl Social is a way for Cracker Barrel to enter into a new category and drive value for shareholders while exposing both brands to new guests and demographics, Cracker Barrel’s CEO Sandy Cochran said in a statement.
"We're excited to partner with Robert Thompson and his talented Punch Bowl Social management team to support such a differentiated, high-growth concept,” Cochran said. “Cracker Barrel and Punch Bowl Social are both highly experiential brands that emphasize quality food and beverage, hospitality and fun. We love what Punch Bowl Social has built and are excited about helping them continue to grow.”
Punch Bowl Social was founded in 2012 and offers guests an elevated dining experience paired with a variety of social games. The drink menu is comprised of hand-crafted cocktails and the food menu is designed to highlight made-from-scratch dishes. Guests can choose from bowling, table games, karaoke, and even virtual reality games to entertain themselves as they eat.
Today, the brand has 17 locations across 12 states. By the end of 2020, it plans on opening 11 new locations.
“The investment in Punch Bowl Social allows Cracker Barrel to enter a new and expanding experiential food and beverage segment, providing another growth vehicle to deliver shareholder value,” Cracker Barrel said in a statement. “Additionally, the strategic relationship provides Punch Bowl Social with additional resources to drive continued growth.”
Founder and CEO Robert Thompson will continue to oversee day-to-day operations as the company enters into the new partnership with Cracker Barrel.
"This relationship represents a tremendous opportunity for the entire Punch Bowl Social family, and we're thrilled to partner with Cracker Barrel,” Thompson added. “Their high-volume, multi-location expertise will help us continue to realize our vision for growth across the country. Our continued goal is to be an experiential millennial and Gen Z lifestyle brand that creates authentic, social guest experiences. Having Cracker Barrel provide growth capital and strategic resources sets us up for the next exciting chapter for Punch Bowl Social."