If you've ever eaten at Cracker Barrel, you know what to expect. It offers good comfort food with a homemade touch and an exciting store to wander around after church while waiting for your table. Except it hasn't changed very much in the 25 years I've been going there. That's about to change.

Cracker Barrel is making strategic moves to stay relevant in the competitive dining arena. These changes include evolving the brand across all touchpoints, creating new menu items that are focused on craveability and driving sales, and improving and changing the in-store / restaurant experience. Additionally, the company wants to upgrade employee training and leverage the brand to compete better with brands that offer takeout and delivery.

Some of this will include remodeling stores and testing remodel prototypes in the next year, which provides for remodeling 25-30 stores.

I say it's about time, too. The last time I ate at a Cracker Barrel was similar to the previous time, and the time before that was on and on and on. Now, it would be okay if I went into Cracker Barrel to eat every month or something like that. However, there were times when I had two years between Cracker Barrel visits, and nothing had changed. Ever.

Now, I generally like the food. The chicken fried chicken is excellent, and the Thursday Turkey N' Dressing is, too, not to mention their breakfasts. Yet, over time, it's become a place I've gone less and less to. Some of that's due to not having a Cracker Barrel down the street, and some of it is it's Cracker Barrel.

For all the good things on the menu, Cracker Barrel isn't one of those places I'll hop in the car and drive to Columbia or Kansas City to enjoy. Sure, I'll go to Columbia for my White Castle fix, Lee's Summit for my Whataburger or Texas Roadhouse fix. Yet, Cracker Barrel is like Applebees or Chili's or whatever. If I happen by them and I want to eat, I might pull in and enjoy a meal there. Or I might keep looking for an exciting, less ubiquitous place.

I hope the remodeled stores ease off the log cabin, dark wood motif that's been present in every Cracker Barrel I've been in. At this point, it's dated, and on cloudy days or in the winter, the restaurant and store don't seem that bright.

I'm not saying to bring in the fluorescent lights and make the restaurants bright and harsh; add a little more color to brighten the place on a dreary day or a chilly winter evening. I think they should go for making it more cozy, like hanging out in grandma's kitchen. Right now, dining in has sort of a rustic vibe to it. It has worked for decades, but I'd like it to change slightly.

As someone who always enjoyed the food at Cracker Barrel, I hope the changes are well received. Who knows, maybe I'll even be inspired to hop in the car and check out one of their remodeled stores when that happens.

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