Inside Holler & Dash, Cracker Barrel’s offshoot for millennials
The country store is getting a new look.
Longtime family-dining brand Cracker Barrel announced earlier this year that it would be breaking away from its blue-plate-special vibe with a new concept targeted at urban diners.
Enter Holler & Dash, the chain’s cooler, younger sibling. The first outpost of this biscuit sandwich-focused spot opened this month in Homewood, Ala., a suburb of Birmingham.
All photos courtesy of Holler & Dash
Looking to broaden its customer base, Cracker Barrel stepped away from its casual-dining tradition, opting instead for a fast-casual format. “There are a lot of new players coming into the [fast-casual] market all the time,” Holler & Dash Chief Operating Officer Mike Chissler says, noting that it’s a prime segment for growth, especially when it comes to the breakfast daypart.
While its setup is typical fast casual, 60-seat Holler & Dash has “added a few new wrinkles,” Chissler says, primarily the inclusion of an ordering kiosk, allowing guests to skip the line when placing an order for dine-in or carryout. An iPad POS system helps to further alleviate congestion at the register by enabling the team to take orders from guests in line.
With breakfast as its core, Holler & Dash is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Yet there are opportunities to capture dollars during other dayparts, as it’s toying with the idea of co-opting the dining room as an evening event space.
The concept’s menu is rooted in traditional Southern fare, such as beignets and biscuits and gravy, with a focus on quality ingredients and conscientious sourcing, Director of Culinary Brandon Frohne says.
Freshness plays a part, too. Biscuits are mixed by hand in the restaurant’s open kitchen, and a craft soda program offers nontraditional takes on fresh ingredients.
“We can change [sodas] easily with whatever’s in season,” Frohne says. Some current sipping selections: strawberry lemongrass and a key lime pie and toasted marshmallow infusion.
By its name alone, the restaurant has some Southern connotations, Chissler says, adding that in the South, a “holler” is a place, or you can holler at a friend. Dash refers to key components of the brand: bold dishes that require a dash of spice or sugar, and fast-paced speed of service—food that’s ready “in a dash.”
Homewood has the sort of the atmosphere Cracker Barrel was hoping to tap into with the offshoot brand, Chissler says. With its aim to enter new markets and appeal to new (read: younger) demographics, this small, city-adjacent community fit the bill.
While there are plans to expand the concept, nothing’s been set in stone yet, Chissler says, as they’re waiting to make sure the business model works in Homewood before looking to replicate it elsewhere.
Still, early signs indicate that business is shaping up as expected. “We really like how this is working,” Chissler says.