Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dolly Parton offers quite a pair to Cracker Barrel

Dolly Parton provided two big things to the Cracker Barrel family restaurant chain during the first quarter: Exclusive rights to sell a  limited-edition “Backwoods Barbie” CD, which cracked the Top 20 on Billboard’s country charts; and a deal to sell 1,350 special edition Dolly Parton rocking chairs for $199 each, with all but 13 sold as of May 27.   

That’s more than a quarter of a million in sales from the rockers alone, according to the company, which offered up those tidbits during its conference call yesterday with financial analysts.   

CEO Michael Woodhouse also revealed that the chain will roll out a new billboard campaign starting next month. Among the themes that will be featured is the tagline, “Half restaurant, half store, all country.”   

Woodhouse also disclosed that the home office has reconfigured its test kitchen to mimic the back-of-the-house of actual restaurants. Previously, he indicated, a new menu item had to be shipped to stores to gauge the ease of adoption and what adjustments would have to be made before a rollout, wasting time and effort.  Makes you wonder why officials would’ve allowed a different set-up to be used for R&D in the first place.  

Under probing from the analysts, Woodhouse noted that weekday dinner service has been the company’s most challenging sales time. People still go out for dinner on weekends as their treat, but are clearly cutting back during the week, he said. 

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