Cracker Barrel names ex-Ruth's Chris CEO Cheryl Henry to its board

Henry will assume the seat vacated by fast-casual veteran Bill Moreton. At age 50, she becomes the youngest member of Cracker Barrel's board.
Henry's selection is the latest in a number of changes for Cracker Barrel. | Photo: Shutterstock

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store has named ex-Ruth’s Chris Steak House CEO Cheryl Henry to its board of directors.

The 50-year-old will assume the seat that was vacated today by 63-year-old fast-casual veteran Bill Moreton, who stepped down for what the chain operator said were personal reasons.  Moreton, a former CEO of Panera Bread, will maintain an active relationship with Cracker Barrel through the end of the year as an advisor to the board and management, the company said.

The appointment of Henry is the latest in a slew of changes for Cracker Barrel as it undertakes what new CEO Julie Masino characterizes as a “transformation” aimed at reinforcing connections with regulator customers while drawing younger consumers. On May 16, Masino sketched out a rejuvenation plan that extends to Cracker Barrel’s menu, operations and design.

Henry is familiar with several of the tactics, having used them during her nearly 17 years in senior management at Ruth’s Chris. Among her signature moves at the upscale steakhouse concept, for instance, were simplifying its menu and making it more accessible to price-sensitive diners. She also initiated a program of selling family-sized portions of Ruth’s sides in a take-home, heat-and-eat form, a parallel to Cracker Barrel’s offer of complete family meals for holidays like Thanksgiving and Easter.

“Her success in overseeing the revitalization of Ruth's Chris will be particularly relevant to Cracker Barrel as we undertake our own strategic transformation," Carl Berquist, the former Marriott International CFO who serves as chairman of Cracker Barrel’s board, said in a statement.

Ruth’s was sold last year to Olive Garden parent Darden Restaurants for about $715 million. Darden is also the parent of The Capital Grille and LongHorn steakhouse chains. Henry parted company with Darden in March.

At age 50, Henry is the youngest member of Cracker Barrel’s board, with Masino a close second. With her appointment, half of the 10-seat group is now under age 60.

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