Company Snapshot: Krystal Co.
1 Union Sq
Chattanooga, TN 37402
Total Current Locations:
AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, SC, TN, VA
$280,000,000 (CSG estimate)
CEO, President: Douglas R. Pendergast
CFO: Robert S. Marshall
CIO: Partha Mukherjee
The Krystal Co. will be observing its 80th birthday later this year, making it one of the country’s oldest restaurant chains and the oldest hamburger chain in the South. Founded in 1932 in Chattanooga by partners Rody Davenport Jr. and J. Glenn Sherrill, the Krystal restaurant concept was patterned after the Midwest’s White Castle system. Like White Castle, the primary product is a small square hamburger sold at a small price point: the first customer received six Krystals and a cup of coffee for $.35. Company lore says the name of the restaurant was suggested by Mrs. Davenport as a twist on Crystal, based on the company’s focus on cleanliness.
The Famous Krystal continues to be the mainstay of the company but over the years other products have been introduced, including Cheese Krystals, Krystal Sunrisers (small breakfast sandwiches), Krystal Chiks (small chicken sandwiches) and Pups (small hot dogs offered with chili and cheese). Other unique menu offerings are Krystal MilkQuakes and Krystal Freezes.
The first drive-through window was opened in the 1950’s, and most locations offer that service now. The company opened its first Krystal HotSpot in 2003 and by 2005 it had become the largest provider of free Wi-Fi of any fast-food chain nationwide.
The company remained in the hands of the founding families until the late 1990’s, when it was acquired out of bankruptcy by Port Royal Holdings Inc. In March 2012, The Krystal Co. was purchased by Atlanta-based Argonne Capital Group LLC. Corporate headquarters will remain in Chattanooga.