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The Truth Behind Rumors of Cracker Barrel Closing

Cracker Barrel restaurant Old Country Store entrance

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?

Warm hoodies, happy smiles at Cracker Barrel
Source: Instagram

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.  

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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? 

Cracker Barrel Curbside pickup
Source: Instagram

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. 

26 Comments

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  1. I truly love cracker barrel. ♥️
    I hate to think that they can’t hire staff for their qualifications, experience, the best fit for the job. but instead have to hire someone less qualified just to meet employment guidelines.
    to think you have to hire a less qualified person because of race sex religion or any other hog wash crap is wrong! we all bleed red we all are created to breathe, all can have ambitious to strive to be the best. some may do slower then other but it can be done.
    we are not here to judge we are not the all mighty king we do not walk on top of the ocean, so we should not judge others. why can’t we hire the best qualified individuals who fit the job they apply for. they should not be picked over by a less experienced person because of race sex religion or anything. I think the job experience needed all benefit posted and the best person for the job hired regardless.
    WE ALL BLEED RED!

    • Thank you! You just spoke what I was thinking. Unfortunately this happenes everywhere now. Plus, why can’t people who CREATE something make their own decisions as to how it will be run/handled. Seems like certain peoples’ “rights” are overruling others’.

    • What makes you think people are being hired over more qualified people just because equal opportunity employment is made to be a requirement? Equal opportunity does not mean less qualified.

    • Thank you for writing this. Its ridiculous the push on corporations to hire someone based on race or gender rather than who is most qualified.

  2. I just don’t understand why Cracker Barrel has to serve alcohol. This this is a down home family restaurant which our family loved going to a lot and getting together and we won’t go anymore because of this. You could have left some of them without alcohol so we could still get together especially in Kodak TN near the Smokies. There are moonshine stills and alcohol almost on every corner, which is very disappointing , so why do you feel like we need it in a down home home style restaurant that has been around for years. We are very very sad that we have lost our favorite restaurant to alcohol. Still praying things will change.

    • Just because it’s on the menu does Not mean you have to order it. Just ignore the alcohol menu. Wth. Get over it! I don’t drink. I hate alcohol. But I also don’t care who does like it. Get a grip!

    • I’ve never experienced a situation where someone has been over-served alcohol. Some people enjoy beer or wine their meal. I’ve not seen any promotions of alcohol such as happy hour. It’s not similar to sporting events where spectators get smashed and obnoxious and why I stopped going to sporting events.

    • Why does the ability for someone else to have alcohol mean you can’t eat there, especially since you claim to love going there as a family. I hate turnip greens and will never order them, but would never think to keep others from having them. I don’t recall seeing alcohol on the menu – but then, since I don’t order it, haven’t looked. You might want to check before boycotting – not sure they sell it….. as if you’d feel forced to drink it if they do.

  3. Cracker Barrel is a JOY to visit, and CHEERS me up every visit! The gorgeous Christmas merchandise is already coming to my house! Love the clothing!!!
    I am thankful to know Cracker Barrel is not closing. However, in my Suwanee, Georgia location, the food is horrible, not edible, from the overcooked and over breaded chicken to the overfried hard catfish. The mashed potatoes are brown and lumpy, totally inedible. Finding employees to work here is hard; most want a handout from the government, and expect small businesses to pay very high wages for low skilled jobs. This store has One Great Waitress who works every shift, all long days, and keeps the place together, helping whomever is in the kitchen, plus waiting on extra tables the other waitresses could not handle. Even on SLOW SHIFTS! Last evening, for the first time, a manager (older man) showed up to help serve, and to keep the kitchen going. The amazing waitress had finally gone home, so the rest of the “staff” had to muddle through as best as they could….not very well.
    Many restaurants, especially fast food, have closed in this area, but it would be a CRIME for this location to close. It has always been packed to the brim with happy people, and people waiting in line, chatting and visiting with each other.
    My friends and I are too old to wait tables; can’t corporate send in some temporary help for this amazing place that we all need so desperately here in Suwanee? Last night the outside lights were OFF, early evening to closing. The staff cannot do the job without more help and/or training. The others in the merchandise and check-out area are super sweet and very Welcoming. The kitchen needs a great cook and the wait-staff needs help. Travelers from all around Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida are regulars.
    Please do not let this GREAT location to fall apart! Thanks for listening!

  4. I love working at Cracker Barrel in Guntersville Alabama. I do maintenance there and clean the place. It is a great place to work. My manager Mike Sanford is the best. This is the cleanest of all 665 Cracker Barrel locations.

  5. I have worked at the Cracker Barrel for over 13 years and am crossed trained in different areas. what people don’t know or understand is-It’s a fast paced high stress restaurant. And since Covid,even more so. What people also don’t understand is. It’s not just a job. If you work for the Cracker Barrel, you become part of the Cracker Barrel family. And although many times in a store, it’s like a dysfunctional family -it’s still your work family. We see each other daily many times even more than we see our own families and we become dependent upon each other in many different ways. I can truly say that every store I’ve worked ,as I’ve worked different stores, the employees truly love and care for one another , although there are different personalities and character traits. The stress of the store brings the employees together and that is why you see so many long-term employees stay there. We’re family. Albeit sometimes a dysfunctional family ,we are family. And our managers in the midst of trying to juggle payroll, food cost and making a district manager happy ,truly do care about the employees.
    I love my job at the CrackerBarrel in Mansfield Ohio.
    Ya’ll come on in!:)

  6. They closed 3 in Oregon. They have 1 open.
    Didnot give employees notice whatsoever. Had a meeting Monday am and shut down. Left employees and customers speechless.

    • Had they given advanced notice, chaos would have ensued as employees simply would not have shown up and spent the time looking for new work. There was no way to win, see. What you might want to be speechless about instead, is what led up to this, and over 100,000 other closed restaurants in the last couple of years nationwide. Such as onerous virus restrictions with very few cases even tied to restaurants, condoned and supported crime and vandalism for starters. Oregon is not a small business friendly state. It even taxes businesses on gross sales, whether or not they have even turned a profit. That has torpedoed many operations.

  7. The food has gone so far down hill , the mashed potatoes are thick stiff and crusted over old tasting. The biscuits have no flavor the country fried steak are pre made frozen and not fresh like they once were, the meatloaf tastes like green pepper covered in ketchup. In fact I can’t think of anything on the menu that’s really worth a damn anymore. It’s all just substandard stuff.

    • We were at one a few weeks ago. The CFR was tasty with great gravy, the dumplings were to die for, everything we had was good. It’s obvious SOME locations don’t live up to standards. If we had one close to us we’d go far more often.

  8. Went into Cracker Barrel in Smyrna, TN at 6:10 this evening. My wife had orders to go for 2 relatives at home due to illnesses. Order finally came out about 7:35. Not complete, Meat Loaf dinner had no Meat Loaf in the container. I took everything back in show it to a manager that did not seem to care, went back to get Meat Loaf, could say nothing except she was sorry! I’m going to call GM in the morning, there boss and corporate to lodge my complaint. I doubt if they will do or say anything. But know one thing for sure, no one in my family will ever set foot in their stores again! I will tell my story to everyone I see and advise aa many people as I can Not To Go there!!!

  9. I always make it a point to go there when I go to Tennessee. Their food, staff, and ambience is always great.
    Their rocking chairs is one of my highlights too. Wish I could find a decent way to ship it to Hawaii. ????

  10. Our only issue with Cracker Barrel – the nearest one is a 3 hour drive away (each way). When we are in south NJ, we go. We live on Long Island, there are plenty of good locations available, and there would be zero direct competition by us (Northwest Suffolk County). We’d go far more often if we could, even if they had to have higher prices here. Food is good, and the stores are fun – and yes, we do buy things.

  11. I heartily dislike Cracker Barrel. For a change of pace during the pandemic I occasionally called in orders for pick up. I’ll admit at least one thing I tried was kind of tasty, but I was so disappointed by my experiences. It seemed like every time I ordered the same item, what I got was somewhat different. They never counseled “We’re out of _____ today so we’ve been replacing it with ___. Would that be okay?” They simply made the substitutions and never said a word.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian attended West Virginia University, then started his career in the IT industry before following his passion for marketing and hospitality. He has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and bar industry.

As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.

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