Cracker Barrel doubles down on biscuits with $36 million deal

The company known for all-you-can-eat biscuits, tabletop peg games and its general store feel is adding "comfort food with a modern twist" not to its menu, but to its portfolio.

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Cracker Barrel Old Country Store has bought a popular casual restaurant chain Maple Street Biscuit Company in an all-cash transaction for $36 million. Maple Street, known for its creative biscuit offerings such as "The Squawking Goat" and "The Five and Dime," was founded in 2012 with one location. It has now grown to 28 company-owned and five franchised locations in seven states.

Cracker Barrell will be converting seven of its Holler & Dash Biscuit Houses into Maple Street Biscuit Company stores.  "The breakfast and lunch-focused fast-casual category is an attractive segment, and our experience with Holler & Dash has reinforced this belief," Sandra B. Cochran, Cracker Barrell President and CEO said in a statement, "We have long admired Maple Street Biscuit Company with its emphasis on made-from-scratch food and hospitality.”

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CBRLCRACKER BARREL OLD COUN.ST.INC152.59-0.81-0.53%

Cochran added that Maple Street " is positioned to become a leader"  in the made-from-scratch food and hospitality category.

While Cracker Barrell has exploded into a $3 billion company with more than 645 stores, its attempts to grow beyond the core brand have been at best mixed. In 1994, the chain tested a carry-out only concept called the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Corner Market. Located in suburban residential neighborhoods, it was competing against the likes of 7-11 stores. But after three years, the company closed those stores. Cracker Barrell has been more successful "regionalizing" its menu as it expanded beyond its southern roots. It opened Holler & Dash in 2016, a fast-casual concept targeting millennials specializing in biscuit sandwiches.

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