Lebanon, TN – Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. (NASDAQ: CBRL) announced that it would be changing the name of its over 660 restaurants and stores to All Lives Barrel starting immediately. Founded in 1969, All Lives Barrel features “traditional” Southern cuisine with appearance and decor designed to resemble an old-fashioned general store. According to the company, Cracker Barrel’s transition to All Lives Barrel will take approximately eight months and will cost the company over $42 million to implement. Over 42 restaurants have already converted.
“We understand that some of our guests will be confused,” said All Lives Barrel spokesperson Bethany Millbright. “But we can see the writing on the wall just like everyone else, and we need to adhere to and preserve our southern roots.”
This is not the first time the popular chain has come under fire. During the early 1990s, the company became the subject of controversy when founder and then-CEO Dan Evins instituted an official company policy prohibiting hiring any individual whose “sexual preferences fail to demonstrate normal heterosexual values.”
And as if that wasn’t enough, Cracker Barrel continued to spark controversy through Evin’s public and private encouragement of discriminatory practices against female and minority employees during the following decade. These practices violated the company’s non-discrimination policy.
This is seen as continuing in that tradition.
Some were ambivalent about the change for regular customers, although many of its more conservative customers often ranted in jibberish about their approval of All Lives Barrel.
“Look here. I get why them blacks are frustrated about being beaten,” said Jasper K. Trains speaking regarding the transformation of his local Knoxville, TN restaurant. “But now my Aunt Jemima is going away, and all the liberals are tearing down the statues and whatnot. So, needless to say, I was shocked and in tears when I came into the parking lot of my Cracker Barrel. And there they were. They were changing the sign to a new one. I was excited. I was.”
After receiving criticism via the Internet, many accusing the chain of being racially insensitive, Cracker Barrel released this announcement via Twitter and Instagram.
“We respect the rights of all Americans and feel that color should have no bearing on your right to enjoy a decent meal with your family. With that in mind, we have agreed to let a Popeye’s Chicken build and operate their establishment across the street from any of our fine, civilized restaurants.”
CBRL is down 16% on NASDAQ following the announcement.