Fans of Cracker Barrel are growing more anxious as rumors circulate and they consider the disturbing prospect of their beloved restaurant brand going out of business. We’ll sort through the rumors in this investigative piece, separating fact from fiction, and provide you with the whole truth about Cracker Barrel’s future. We’ll delve into the complexities of the restaurant business and look at Cracker Barrel’s distinct place in it. Join us as we dispel the falsehoods, reveal the real reason they exist, and consider the lasting effects of this beloved American institution.
So is Cracker Barrel Actually Closing?
While Cracker Barrel was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic like many other restaurants were, the good news is that Cracker Barrel is as healthy a choice as one of its home-cooked vegetable dishes, or maybe even healthier. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store saw revenue growth year over year of more than 11 percent and total revenue of $862.26 million. Wall Street analysts rate its stock, CBRL, a hold. That doesn’t sound like a restaurant that’s closing. There are 665 Cracker Barrel restaurants in the United States, according to Cracker Barrel. There are 664 Cracker Barrel locations in 45 U.S. states, plus ghost kitchen operations to serve up Cracker Barrel favorites through food delivery services such as GrubHub and DoorDash.
Where Did These Rumors Come From?
Why would anyone look at the full Cracker Barrel parking lots and think these fan-favorite restaurants would be closing? According to trusted myth-buster Snopes, the rumor about Cracker Barrel closing began with clickbait content on the internet. The advertisement included the eye-catching headline “Saying Goodbye: Stores Closing in 2021 Across the Nation (See Full List)” above a photograph of a Cracker Barrel restaurant. Those who clicked on the article wouldn’t see Cracker Barrel on the list of stores and restaurants closing, but the implication from the photo and headline was there. Cracker Barrel’s history of scandals and lawsuits may have also added fuel to rumors of the restaurants’ demise. In the early 2000s, Cracker Barrel faced numerous accusations of racism and discrimination that led to a lawsuit filed by the NAACP and a U.S. Justice Department investigation. The suit included claims that African Americans in several states faced discrimination, segregation, and poor service at the restaurants.
The Justice Department didn’t fine Cracker Barrel, but the restaurants did have to put diversity and anti-discrimination programs in place and monitor progress through hiring undercover diners. The restaurant business settled a series of racial discrimination lawsuits for $8.7 million. Cracker Barrel didn’t add sexual orientation to their non-discrimination policy until 2022, after having the worst possible score – a zero – on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index. That score is now 60/100, showing it still has a long way to go. The restaurant corporation also faced a social media firestorm in 2017, when Bradley Reid Byrd questioned Cracker Barrel on Facebook about the firing of his wife. Cracker Barrel’s social media accounts were flooded with posts carrying the hashtag #JusticeForBradsWife. The company has also been accused of gender, disability, age discrimination, and sexual harassment, which has resulted in more legal costs. Cracker Barrel notes their diversity efforts online, so hopefully, they’ve changed their ways.
Will Cracker Barrel Close in the Future?
There’s no guarantee a business won’t face accusations of discrimination in the future, and continued growth isn’t a sure thing for any restaurant. Business conditions, bad publicity, and changing trends often lead to restaurant closures. Still, there’s no reason to think that Cracker Barrel locations will be closing anytime soon. The restaurant seems to be working at repairing its reputation, and they’re a comfortable spot for down-home cooking.
Other Restaurant Closings
Just because Cracker Barrel is seeing its revenue grow post-pandemic doesn’t mean every restaurant is doing well. Multiple restaurant corporations are closing scores of locations. Steak & Shake, Applebee’s, Ponderosa Steakhouse, Red Robin, Krystal, Joe’s Crab Shack, and Golden Corral all have shut down restaurants to cut their losses. At least two on that list – Joe’s Crab Shack and Ponderosa owner Metromedia Steakhouses – have filed for bankruptcy.