October 16, 2019

The cornbread kingpin strikes again, as Cracker Barrel acquires Maple Street Biscuit

Cracker Barrel bought Maple Street Biscuit Co. for $36m, the latest in a series of investments.

As part of the acquisition, Maple Street — a quirky Jacksonville, Florida-based fast-casual chain with 33 locations — will absorb Cracker Barrel’s previously acquired Holler & Dash Biscuit House locations.

Biscuits + maple… Mmmmm. 

The country-style breakfast boss has been making serious moves 

The Maple Street buyout comes just months after Cracker Barrel invested up to $140m for a noncontrolling stake in Punch Bowl Social, an “eatertainment(oh yes) chain with strong recent growth. 

It could be a smart diversification play, given the rise of the experience economy — and gaining a competitive edge is key in the increasingly saturated fast-casual restaurant market. 

Recently, Cracker Barrel has seen a 0.7% dip in traffic, but it expects to flip the pancake — I mean, decline — through these recent investments. 

From gasoline salesman to cornbread kingpin… a tale as old as time 

The company’s journey has been pretty crazy since Day One: In 1969, Shell Oil rep Dan Evins opened a general store to sell gas and homestyle cookin’ along the burgeoning US interstate. 

Fast-forward to the 1990s; that little roadside stop exploded into a billion-dollar behemoth, and it has continued growing — despite accusations of homophobia and racism that lasted well into the 2000s. Well isn’t that just gravy. 

Just how has Cracker Barrel continued rollin’ in the dough for so long? 

… Turns out, people REALLY love gift shops. The Southern comfort chain’s 19-year winning streak for “Best Family Dining Award” is thanks largely to its old-timey merch… or as they describe it, “unique gifts and self-indulgences, many reminiscent of America’s country heritage.” Tomato tomato.

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