Don’t Disappoint, Be Distinct

by Curt Kovener 

I enjoy eating breakfast at Cracker Barrel Old Time Country Store while traveling and try to fit it into my morning work schedule.

I like to order molasses with my biscuits. Most recently my server apologized saying Cracker Barrel discontinued serving molasses. I was disappointed but thanked her for the information, afterall, it wasn’t her fault.

When the manager came around he asked if everything was to my liking, I told him no because I really enjoyed molasses with my breakfast biscuits. Then he apologized and said it was not his decision to no longer serve molasses but the order came down from corporate.

When I paid for my meal the young lady at the register asked if everything was okay. And I told her the same as I told the manager. Then it was her turn to apologize acknowledging it wasn’t a local decision.

My friend, Scott McKain, a professional motivational speaker and author of Create Distinction would no doubt agree that the country themed restaurant is now less distinctive. The Tennessee based restaurant chain should strive for more distinction by offering regionally produced food products like Brown County Molasses in their Indiana restaurants and Kentucky Proud products in restaurants in the Bluegrass state.

Cracker Barrel prides itself on being a country restaurant. Just look around at the wood floor, stone fireplace, country music playing, and the assortment of clothing, home accents and food products (including molasses) available for sale in the “Old Country Store”.

So I gotta wonder what city raised corporate marketing guru made the decision to discontinue serving molasses at breakfast? Molasses and biscuits is country where I come from.

To their credit, the well-known eatery chain has added more healthy fare to their menu. Afterall, man does not live on biscuits & gravy alone. Well… maybe some of you do.

But adding a healthy dining selection to the menu forces a reduction in the distinct country fare that has come to be a part of the store brand? Is there a secret restaurant rule that limits the number of menu items? Is there no room in the Cracker Barrel refrigerator for a quart jar of molasses?

The service I get at every Cracker Barrel I frequent has always been the best: prompt, friendly and accommodating. And it is disappointing that some anonymous corporate decision maker makes this bad decision from afar and leaves the local servers & managers twisting in the wind to explain why a country restaurant no longer offers a sweet country tradition for a morning biscuit.

I would like the opportunity to talk to this decision maker to let him/her know in plain country language how @#$% disappointed I am with Cracker Barrel and to encourage him/her not to make another bad decision; such as deciding to remove gravy or smoked ham or grits from the menu.

And if chicken & dumplings go away from their menu, there just might be a 911 call of a crazed man at Cracker Barrel.

Cracker Barrel is losing its uniqueness and distinction and might as well be one of the other fast food joints I pass up along the roadway.

No molasses for a morning biscuit at a country restaurant? To paraphrase local singer/songwriter Brian Fink: I don’t know what they were thinkin’, but I know what they were thinkin’ with.