With some kind of return to dining becoming an impending reality in many states, restaurants are scrambling to prepare their dining areas for the cautious return of customers. Not only that, but they’re also figuring out how to cope with the revenue shortfalls that social distancing restrictions could create.
Cracker Barrel’s solution? Start selling booze. Nation’s Restaurant News says the chain’s post-pandemic strategy will involve tapping into beer and wine as a new revenue stream. It’s another facet of their attempt to “migrat[e]” to a new menu.
Technically, the plan to introduce beer and wine had already begun before Covid-19, as 20 Cracker Barrel restaurants already serve alcohol. But with same-store sales at Cracker Barrel falling 41.7 percent for the quarter that ended on May 1st, it sounds like they’ll be rapidly expanding that service at many more of the 505 out of 664 locations currently open for dining.
Though the new menu tweaks will include “Saturday fried pork chops,” that probably isn’t the reason why the company expects its profits to be “choppy” in the months ahead.
"The past several months have presented unprecedented challenges for Cracker Barrel, the industry and our country,” CEO Sandra B. Cochran said in a statement cited by NRN. “I believe our strategic priorities, such as accelerating our off-premise business, combined with the rapid actions we took to bolster liquidity, strengthen our business model and adapt our operations to the circumstances have positioned us well for the recovery period to come.”
It’s worth noting that Cracker Barrel isn’t the only chain with a heavy dine-in focus to up its booze offerings in these strange times. Olive Garden recently began selling its own in-house collection of wines for $15 a bottle, available for takeout.
So if you’ve been sneaking flasks into Cracker Barrel for years, today is your lucky day. At the very least, maybe a little liquid courage can help you get over your fear of sitting down for a dine-in meal right now.
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