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CLERMONT, FL-Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc., a 440-unit, country-style restaurant chain based in Lebanon, TN, plans to break ground in October on an estimated 5,000-sf location in the Kash n’ Karry Shopping Center at the northwest corner of State Road 50 and Citrus Tower Boulevard. Completion is tentatively scheduled for April 2002.

Cracker Barrel officials couldn’t be reached at GlobeSt.com’s publication deadline to learn the cost of the venture. But area contractors tell GlobeSt.com the restaurant will probably be built at about $65 per sf or $325,000 for the job.

The Tennessee restaurant chain plans a second Lake County location in Leesburg, FL by year end at a site just north of US 441 and College Drive.

In South Lake, Cracker Barrel joins new players Crispers Fresh Salads and Such, Sonny’s Real Pit Bar-B-Q, Green Garden Chinese Restaurant, Hungry Howie’s and Kazbor’s Grille. Tampa-based Outback Steakhouse plans a 6,000-sf outlet early next year at Florida Plaza, State Road 50 and Oakley Seaver Boulevard.

Cracker Barrel is part of CBRL Group Inc., also based in Lebanon, a Nashville, TN suburb. Besides its 440 Cracker Barrel restaurants and gift shops in 40 states, CBRL also operates 78 Logan’s Roadhouses and eight franchised restaurants in 15 states; and three Carmine Giardini’s Gourmet Market units in Florida.

Of CBRL’s entire stable, Cracker Barrel is faring the best this year, according to the company’s fiscal third-quarter financials for the nine-months ended April 27.

“The Cracker Barrel Old country Store concept is on target to be on plan for the fiscal year, in spite of cost pressures from group health benefits, utilities and beef and pork prices,” Michael A. Woodhouse, CBRL’s president and chief operating officer, says in a prepared statement.

The Logan’s Roadhouse concept performance, however, “has been disappointing, reflecting sales softness and cost pressures, but we believe that the plans we have been putting in place to improve execution will begin to yield benefits over the next several quarters,” Woodhouse says.

For its fiscal nine-month period, CBRL reported net income of $46.6 milion or 82 cents per diluted share, compared with net income of $35.3 million or 60 cents per diluted share in the same period a year ago.

Revenue was $1.4 billion, up 9.1% from a year earlier. Comparable store sales for Cracker Barrel were up 4.8%, reflecting improved customer traffic of 1.7% and a higher average check of 3.1% on restaurant items and up 1.9% on retail items.

So far this year, CBRL has opened 14 new Cracker Barrels and 13 new Logan’s Roadhouses.

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