Crate & Barrel to Expand its In-Store Restaurant to Up to 15 Locations

September 16, 2019, 10:38 PM UTC

Crate & Barrel is expected to open up to 15 of its full-service restaurants, called The Table at Crate, after its first location near Chicago proved to be a hit this summer.

“It was a win right out of the gate,” said Neela Montgomery, CEO of Crate & Barrel. “It was profitable in the second month.”

The company, which collaborated with Cornerstone Restaurant Group, debuted the new concept in Oak Brook, IL in July to show off its dining, kitchen, and design products. Almost all of the items in the restaurant are available for purchase on the storefront side of business. 

The restaurant’s promising initial results has led to the decision to expand it to Crate & Barrel’s top 10 to 15 stores, Montgomery said at Fortune’s MPW International Summit in Toronto on Monday. She did not give a timeline for when she expected the restaurants to open or where they would be.

The restaurant is one way Montgomery is shaking things up since she took over the CEO role from Doug Diemoz in 2017. Since then, she’s been working on new ways to make the brand more relevant to today’s consumers, she said. 

“We don’t get to control the experience as we once did,” she said. “Now there are so many different ways you interact with my brand, and I have to be there for you the way you want me to be there.”

And that means being active on social media platforms like Instagram, creating new experiences like The Table at Crate, and building a better online shopping platform. After all, about 45% of the company’s sales are done online. 

But with Amazon dominating online retail, attracting customers to a more traditional housewares business is not easy. Montgomery said the only way Crate & Barrel can compete in the space is to explain to customers why its products are unique and therefore worth the premium price.

“There’s no way you can out-Amazon Amazon,” she said. “So what you have to do as a brand is be able to tell your story and choose to compete in product categories where you can develop something unique.”

Montgomery says her biggest challenge is to refresh Crate & Barrel stores so that more people are driven to enter or re-enter the stores.

“We don’t need to be loved—I think were actually quite loved,” she said. “For us, it’s about relevance and reimagining our amazing stores.”

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