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Cracker Barrel considers off-premise biscuit bars

Cracker Barrel considers off-premise biscuit bars

Family-dining chain looks to expand catering business

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. customers could soon belly up to their very own off-premise biscuit bar. 

The Lebanon, Tenn.-based family-dining chain is considering hand-held breakfast sandwiches and off-premise biscuit bars as part of new catering elements, executives said during a second-quarter earnings call on Tuesday.

Cracker Barrel, which features biscuits at its six-unit fast-casual Holler & Dash Biscuit House chain, is looking to expand off-premise sales, which have grown with new catering menu offerings and online ordering.

“As we seek to gain market share within the off-premise space, we also plan to further enhance our catering menu over the coming quarters, which may include some new catering offerings such as a biscuit bar and hand-held breakfast sandwiches,” said Sandra Cochran, Cracker Barrel president and CEO, during the call.

Off-premise sales, especially during the recent Thanksgiving and Christmas “heat-and-serve” season, have exceeded the company’s expectations, she said.

For Easter on April 1, Cracker Barrel will again offer the heat-and-serve menu, which includes spiral-sliced ham, a choice of four sides and blackberry cobbler to serve 10 people.

“The Easter occasion, which is smaller than either Thanksgiving or Christmas, represents another opportunity to build our heat-and-serve program, and we are optimistic about its potential sales growth over the prior year,” Cochran said.

In addition, Cracker Barrel continues to expand its Crafted Coffee initiative.

“We have it in just over 350 stores by the end of the second quarter, and we plan to complete the rollout by April,” Cochran said.

The coffee program offers iced and hot latte offerings, as well as limited-time flavors such as Peppermint Mocha Latte in the second quarter.

“We continue to be pleased with the results of the Crafted Coffee program, which drives check favorability, complements the strength of our breakfast all-day offering and provides menu variety,” Cochran said. “Another component of our long-term beverage strategy is flavored teas and lemonades, and we have plans to introduce new offerings as part of our upcoming seasonal menu promotions.”

In addition to the specialty beverage program, which the company expects to produce a favorable mix in the back half of the year, Cracker Barrel is also featuring value items on the menu.

Cochran said the value items are intended to “drive frequency by reinforcing our already strong everyday-value proposition.”

With provisions for income taxes in the second quarter ended Jan. 26, Cracker Barrel reported net income of $91.1 million, or $3.79 per share, an increase from $52.7 million, or $2.19 per share, the previous year. Revenue rose 2 percent, to $787.8 million.

Same-store restaurant sales grew 1.1 percent on a 0.9-percent increase in traffic and a 2-percent increase in average check. Same-store retail sales rose 0.5 percent.

Cracker Barrel has 649 company-owned restaurants in 45 states and six fast-casual Holler & Dash units.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected] 

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

Correction: February 21, 2018
This story has been edited to correct the headquarters city.
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