Now Cracker Barrel?

Say it ain’t so!

The Tennessee-headquartered company with 660 stores spread across 44 states recently posted a picture on Instagram of a rainbow-colored rocking chair with the following message:

“Everyone is always welcome at our table (and our rainbow rocker).”

Of course Cracker Barrel is committed to serving anyone and everyone who choose to dine in their restaurants. Are there any stores refusing anyone based on their sexual identity? I sure hope not. If there are, that’s wrong and illegal. But I’m not aware of any.

Cracker Barrel joins the bevy of other corporations and businesses succumbing to Pride month pressure and propaganda. What’s somewhat surprising, however, is that the Barrel seems oblivious or indifferent to the backlash other high-profile companies have endured.

The big question is, why do they feel it necessary to single out “LGBT” customers and not others?

Online reaction to the move has been swift and intense with many expressing disgust and disappointment, and even some calling for a boycott of the once family-friendly brand.

In a culture obsessed with speed and sophistication, of everything new and improved, I’ve long wished the world contained more of the charm, tradition, wisdom, and slow pace of Cracker Barrel.

At least up until now.

I’ve liked Cracker Barrel for a long time, but not only because of their food. I think I’m drawn to the place because it reminds me of childhood, of diners and mom-and-pop places, not to mention home-cooked meals with my family. I also enjoy it because of the people I meet there, like fellow diner Nancy Wegeman. Nancy learned we were there to celebrate one of our sons one morning. She sang “Happy Birthday” to Will as we left.

I feel comfortable sitting by the fireplace or playing checkers while waiting for a table to open up. It’s also fun to browse the candy selections, where many of the brands bring back memories of Howie’s Candy Store in my hometown.

Beyond the nostalgia, I understand every word on their menu — which gave me the sense that their corporate culture understood me, too.

Corporations have long been faced with the difficult challenge of navigating potentially explosive political and social issues.

Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary recently told Fox News’ Jesse Watters that “The stunning collapse of Target’s market cap is almost unprecedented. On one hand, companies want to show their support of diversity in all the mandates that society is discussing openly. On the other hand, the job of a business — particularly from the perspective of an investor — and those that are retired, for example, that own the S&P 500 or own Target stock — are concerned that maybe they’re losing their way in terms of what the prime objective is: your customers, your employees, and yeah your shareholders.”

In other words – know your audience and don’t deliberately antagonize them.

“Look at Budweiser Light. It took decades to create the American beer and exactly 32 hours to destroy it. When you can’t control the message anymore, through social media, which is clearly obvious, you better figure out what message you’re putting out before it gets out there.”

Cracker Barrel has committed what’s called an “unforced error” – “a mistake in play that is attributed to one’s own failure rather than to the skill or effort of one’s opponent.”

Nobody is accusing the company of not serving everyone – but by prioritizing, patronizing and elevating some over everyone else, Cracker Barrel appears to be off their rocker and jeopardizing customer’s longtime love and loyalty.

Photo from Instagram.