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Cracker Barrel Adds Booze to Menus So You Can Get Drunk the Old Country Store Way

Plus, Blue Bell is paying out millions for contaminated ice cream it sold in 2015, and other news to start the day

Cracker Barrel restaurant sign against a blue sky. Photo: Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock

Cracker Barrel is getting boozy for good

For the first time in its 51-year history, Cracker Barrel is finally adding alcohol to its menu, CNN reports. The restaurant chain began testing the addition of beer, wine, and mimosas at select locations earlier this year, and recently announced that those menu changes would be permanent and would expand to most of its locations by the end of 2020.

“Our guests have told us that offering beer and wine would reduce the veto vote — that is, those guests who would choose Cracker Barrel for a given dining occasion, but ultimately go elsewhere because they would like to have a beer or a glass of wine with their meal — especially during weekend dinner,” a spokesperson told CNN.

Loosened liquor laws and alcohol sales have helped keep some restaurants afloat during the pandemic, with eateries selling cocktail kits, bottles straight from the inventory, and drinks to-go over the past six months. It seems even Cracker Barrel, which has long held onto its old-fashioned, family-oriented, “old country store” image — to the point where it once prohibited the hiring of LGBTQ workers and has been sued for racial discrimination — is no longer immune to the financial allure of booze.

And in other news…

  • Blue Bell has been ordered to pay $17.25 million in criminal penalties for its negligence in handling contaminated ice cream products that were linked to listeria infections in 2015. [Food Safety News]
  • Demand for tofu has been way up since the U.S. coronavirus crisis intensified six months ago. [WaPo]
  • Former PepsiCo CEO Donald M. Kendall, who started the “cola wars” between Pepsi and Coke, died on Saturday. [WSJ]
  • Chipotle, which is eyeing growth even amid the pandemic, says one silver lining is that it can control portion sizes a lot better now that many orders aren’t being placed in person in real time, without the pressure of customers asking for “just a little more” of some ingredient. [Business Insider]
  • Some restaurant owners have mixed feelings about the prospect of sticking a COVID surcharge on diners’ checks. [NYT]
  • Swiss Miss hot cocoa packaging is getting a more sustainable makeover. [Food Dive]
  • A profile of Sheldon Lavin, the “secretive billionaire” whose company supplies McDonald’s hamburgers, Chipotle’s carnitas, and other key ingredients for some of the biggest food brands and chains. [Forbes]
  • The historic wines that inspired pét-nat. [Punch]

All AM Intel Coverage [E]