Sunday, February 27, 2022

Can Virtual Restaurants Save Legacy Chain Restaurants?


If you are running a legacy chain restaurant today you need to ask yourself, how can I add customer relevance to a brand that has been around longer than most Millennials have been alive. According to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® virtual restaurants just might be the next big thing and a legacy chain restaurants savior.

Ok, remember that last October, Cracker Barrel opened a virtual restaurant brand and now it is getting ready to double its investment in its virtual brand The Pancake Kitchen by expanding to 200 locations by the end of 2022, roughly doubling the count from the start of the year.  Guess what?  It is proving the lift that Cracker Barrel needed while drawing in new customers during new dayparts.

The Pancake Kitchen is a delivery-only concept cooked in Cracker Barrel kitchens is meant to make eating breakfast all day easier for guests of the family-dining chain.

Matthew Schaefer, Cracker Barrel’s senior director of strategy and innovation, stated, “The expansion of The Pancake Kitchen by Cracker Barrel is part of our plan to make it as easy and convenient as possible for guests to enjoy one of our most popular homestyle breakfast favorites — whether they want pancakes at breakfast, lunch or dinner time!” ... “As the trend in online ordering and partnership with on-demand delivery platforms continues, we are excited to evolve our strategy and offerings to ensure our guests are able to satisfy their cravings for ‘pancakes all flippin’ day.’”

So, the menu consists of classic Buttermilk Pancakes with flavors like Pecan, Blueberry, Confetti (fruity cereal) and Chocolate Chip, with the option to add famous Cracker Barrel sides like Loaded Hashbrown Casserole or Fried Apples.

CEO Sandy Cochran, discussed The Pancake Kitchen, saying, “we remain confident that we can retain at least 60% of the growth in off-premises sales that we experienced during the pandemic.” 60% is a very good number.

Thus, The Pancake Kitchen expansion includes multiple phases. The brand is in 150 locations as of this week, with 50 of those being new, and plans to expand to 200 locations throughout this year. But that’s not all, Cracker Barrel also has a virtual brand called Chicken ‘n Biscuits, which is currently in around 500 of its 660 brick-and-mortar locations, and ghost kitchen outposts that opened in October.

Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a Grocerant ScoreCard, or for product positioning or placement assistance, or call our Grocerant Guru®.  Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Contact: or 253-759-7869

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