Cracker Barrel, Punch Bowl Social Ink $140M Strategic Relationship

A partnership between two experiential but distinctly differently themed chains was forged today with the announcement that Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and Denver-based Punch Bowl Social have entered into a “strategic relationship,” with Tennessee-based Cracker Barrel investing up to $140 million and assuming a non-controlling position in the 7-year-old chain.

Cracker Barrel’s 660 Southern country-themed restaurants are a contrast with the “eatertainment” atmosphere of Punch Bowl Social and its vibrant bar, games, bowling lanes and table tennis appealing to GenXers and Millennials.  

The Lebanon, Tenn., chain also will provide growth capital for future development and have the opportunity to acquire a controlling or full ownership position in Punch Bowl Social in the future. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Cracker Barrel acquired the stake from L Catterton, the private equity firm. In June, L Catterton acquired Del Frisco Restaurant Group.

Denver-based Punch Bowl Social has more than doubled its national footprint over the past two years. It operates 17 locations across 12 states and plans to open 11 additional units by the end of 2020. Founder and CEO Robert Thompson and his management team will continue to oversee day-to-day operations.

"We're excited to partner with Robert Thompson and his talented Punch Bowl Social management team to support such a differentiated, high-growth concept,” says Sandy Cochran, CEO of Cracker Barrel, adding, “It gives us an opportunity to enter a new category with exposure to new guests and demographics while also leveraging our strengths and the similarities between the two companies.”

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