Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

c.2013 New York Times News Service

Cracker Barrel won’t be sold to the “entrepreneurial mind” of Sardar Biglari anytime soon.

The restaurant chain’s board fired back at Biglari, the activist investor, on Monday, saying that it plans to continue business as is despite Biglari’s push to put Cracker Barrel on the block.

Biglari, whose Biglari Capital Corp. owns nearly 20 percent of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, chided the company’s management in an open letter last week and pushed for a sale, preferably to him. If the board did not “promptly” announce a sale process, Biglari said in a separate regulatory filing, he would call a special shareholders’ meeting to vote on such a deal.

“We are disappointed that Mr. Biglari is seeking to call a special meeting to vote on a proposal requesting that the company commence a sale process, particularly in light of his defeat by substantial margins in three consecutive proxy contests,” James W. Bradford, the chairman of Cracker Barrel’s board, said in a statement on Monday. “Cracker Barrel’s board of directors continues to believe that the execution of management’s existing business strategy will create the most value for all shareholders.”

In its letter, the board said it had considered Biglari’s demands.

A representative for Biglari could not be immediately reached for comment.

Biglari, Cracker Barrel’s largest shareholder, whose previous attempts to gain a seat on Cracker Barrel’s board have failed, said it would take an “entrepreneurial mind” to improve the company’s earnings, which he criticized as being too low. Biglari also criticized the company’s decision to temporarily pull products from A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” television show after its star, Phil Robertson, made inflammatory comments about gay people in a magazine interview.

This is not the first time Cracker Barrel has told Biglari to back off. The restaurant chain, which operates 625 locations in 42 states, has adopted poison pill provisions in the past to prevent Biglari from taking over.