|Number of locations||360|
|Key people||Douglas R. Pendergast President, CEO, Al Ryan, Vice President|
|Products||Fast food, including hamburgers, french fries, dairy desserts, and signature breakfast offerings.|
Krystal is an American fast food restaurant chain with headquarters in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It is known for its small, square hamburger sliders with steamed-in onions. Krystal's burgers resemble those of White Castle. Krystal is popular with college students, and has become known for competitive eating contests, including one in which a record-holding participant ate over 100 hamburgers in a matter of minutes. Krystal announced that it will move its corporate headquarters from Chattanooga to Atlanta in early 2013.
Founded October 24, 1932, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in the first years of the Great Depression, entrepreneur Rody Davenport Jr. and partner J. Glenn Sherrill theorized that even in a severe economic upheaval, "People would patronize a restaurant that was kept spotlessly clean, where they could get a good meal with courteous service at the lowest possible price." The restaurant's first customer, French Jenkins, ordered six "Krystals" and a cup of coffee, all for the "bargain" price of $0.35, thus proving their theory true.
Davenport visited White Castle restaurants, taking notes of successful features before setting forth on his own venture. Davenport and Sherrill set up the first Krystal at the corner of Seventh and Cherry Streets in Chattanooga. While the building still stands, the original Krystal restaurant is no longer in operation. The oldest Krystal still in operation is located on Cherokee Boulevard in Chattanooga's Northshore District. Krystal is the seventh or eighth-oldest hamburger chain in the United States (the oldest being White Castle) and the oldest in the South.
Regarding the origins of the Krystal name, company legend states that Davenport and his wife were riding down a mountain road when Mrs. Mary McGee Davenport saw a lawn ornament in the shape of a crystal ball. While gazing at the lawn ornament, Mrs. Davenport commented that since Davenport and Sherrill felt cleanliness was a cornerstone of the concept, they should name the restaurant Crystal for "clean as a crystal" - yet with a "K" to add a little twist.
During the 1950s and early 1960s, the chain served much of its food not in take-out containers but on inexpensive porcelain dishware labelled "Krystal." The waiters and waitresses wore white uniforms, and food was offered through counter service. In the 1950s, Krystal opened its first drive through window - which most locations maintain today.
In the 1950s, cake doughnuts were served as a breakfast and dessert item. From about 1970 until 1986, fried chicken and related sides were offered. These items were usually sold from a small addition to the back of the hamburger restaurants.
Krystal restaurants, both company-owned and franchised, operate in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee. There is also a single Krystal in Bristol, Virginia (which lies on the Tennessee-Virginia border), one in West Memphis, Arkansas (directly across the Mississippi River from Memphis), and one in Murphy, North Carolina. Krystal is often compared to the similar Midwest restaurant chain White Castle, but other than in the Bowling Green, Kentucky and Nashville, Tennessee markets, the two restaurants' market areas do not overlap.
Krystal still maintains corporate headquarters in Chattanooga, but is the process of relocating to Atlanta, GA and has been owned by Argonne Capital Group since early 2012. Previously, Port Royal Holdings, Inc. owned the chain from 1997-2012, expanding the chain to a peak of over 420 locations in 11 states in 2002, before downsizing and closing dozens of locations. Ten new locations were added in 2011.
In the late 1990s, Krystal emerged from a bankruptcy proceeding and sale of assets that placed majority ownership outside the heirs of the founding families. Krystal's period of structural change and uncertainty in the late 1990s has led to a successfully reborn restaurant chain with high levels of reported customer satisfaction and an evolving menu.
Krystal's product line centers on a square hamburger patty slider with a steamed bun called a "Krystal". Small hot dogs called "pups" are also featured menu items. More recently, the chain expanded its menu to include the "Big Angus Burger," a full-size hamburger made of 100% Angus beef.
Krystal is known for a diverse breakfast menu, which includes a made-to-order country breakfast, meat and egg sandwiches, and other items. One particularly popular breakfast item is the Scrambler, which includes a layered stack of scrambled eggs, sausage, grits, and cheese served in a styrofoam cup. Other variations of the Scrambler also feature pancakes, sausage gravy, or southwestern-style spices.
In 1998, Krystal introduced the Krystal Chik, a fried chicken breast filet slider served on the signature steamed square bun. Krystal Chiks remain popular, along with other chicken and salad items. Krystal continues to focus on their core menu products but continues to redesign and upgrade their stores to appeal to a mobile and multi-tasking audience.
The chain is testing a prototype for a drive-in that features individual television monitors for ordering and watching television (audio is accessed via car stereo), and indoor and outdoor seating areas with multiple big-screen television monitors and free digital jukeboxes.
Currently Krystal owns or franchises a total of 360 restaurants in about a dozen southern states. The company was purchased by Argonne Capital Group in 2012.
Krystal restaurants are the host of the Krystal Square Off, a competitive eating contest. The current world record is 103 Krystal burgers consumed in 8 minutes by Joey Chestnut, set on October 28, 2007.
References in popular culture
- Krystal hamburger chain sold to private investment firm
- Corporate Info, retrieved 2010-08-19
- http://timesfreepress.com/news/2012/mar/23/krystal-sold-atlanta-based-investors/ Krystal sold to Atlanta based investors
- "Sweepstakes Rules." (Archive) Krystal. Retrieved on April 28, 2012. "The Krystal Company One Union Square Chattanooga, TN 37402"
- http://www.krystalsquareoff.com/competitive-eating-profiles/joey-chestnut.html[dead link]
- "Company history", Krystal.com
- Hogan, David Gerard (1997). Selling 'em by the Sack: White Castle and the Creation of American Food (1st ed.). NYU Press. p. 50. ISBN 0-8147-3567-3. Retrieved 2008-06-04.
- Krystal.com. "Company Timeline" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-12-01.[dead link]
- Krystal.com, Breakfast Menu
- Krystal sold to Argonne
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