Memories of Growing Up with the Krystal

Friday, October 05, 2012 - by Harmon Jolley
Krystal advertised in the program for Chattanooga's 1965 sesquicentennial.
Krystal advertised in the program for Chattanooga's 1965 sesquicentennial.

 I had to read the recent headline at least twice.  “Krystal to Move Headquarters to Atlanta” – yes, that’s what it said. 

For the past eighty years since its founding in 1932, Krystal has had its home office in Chattanooga.  The news of the move triggered memories of growing up with Krystal.

Supporting Chattanooga Businesses

My father was a Chattanooga fireman.  He supported Chattanooga-based businesses as often as possible.  He would tell us that a strong local economy translated into more funds for government services.

   So, that meant that he bought products of Chattanooga Bakery, Double Cola, Hamilton Concrete Blocks, Jackson Water Heaters, Krystal, and others.

At the Krystal, my father’s favorite selection was a bowl of chili and two Krystals.

Krystal Architecture

Most Krystal restaurants had a familiar crystal ball over the doorway.   White panels with black trim were on the exterior, and black and white tiles were used on walls and floors.   Chrome added an art deco touch.  The side windows had a distinctive curve still found on some Krystals today.

A Krystal Geography Lesson

Krystal hamburgers are still packaged in cardboard boxes.  When I was growing up, the side panels listed the cities in which Krystals could be found.   So, by keeping an empty Krystal box in the glove compartment, one could use it as reference to find Krystals when traveling.

We often traveled to Birmingham to visit extended family.  Since one family lived downtown, we visited a downtown Krystal that had table service and china with “Krystal” inscribed.

Krystal Waffles

Krystal had a full breakfast menu that included great-tasting waffles.  Add eggs, grits, bacon, and you would be set for the day.

Krystal Drive-in at Brainerd and Germantown

I believe that drive-ins were rare in the Krystal chain, but Brainerd had one.  We visited it whenever we were east of the ridge.

“Take Along a Sack Full”

This was the motto of Krystal when I was growing up.  In the 1960’s, their advertising included a white kangaroo with purple polka-dots.   I guess that the kangaroo carried Krystals in her pouch.   Krystal sold inflatable kangaroos for a nominal price.   Ours leaked air, though, probably due to being used as a punching bag by my friends and me.

Krystal Comes to South Chattanooga

I grew up in St. Elmo.  For years, there were no major fast food restaurants.  One could find the Maypole, Mount Vernon, the Old South, and Pops Pig House but no national chain eateries.  In the late 1960’s, Krystal opened on South Broad next to the Old South.  The people of South Chattanooga as well as Lookout Mountain tourists responded favorably.

Krystal Fried Chicken

Soon after Kentucky Fried Chicken spread secret herbs and spices nationwide, Krystal ventured into fried chicken.  This required adding space to the existing restaurants.   If a family was divided between burgers and chicken, as mine was, it required splitting up and ordering from two separate counters.

The Krystal chicken venture was short-lived, and stores began expanding into the former chicken area to serve more burger customers.

The Polka-Dot “K” Era of the 1970’s

Krystal carried out a chain-wide remodeling in the early 1970’s.  Gone were the black, white, and chrome, which were replaced by red, white, and goldenrod.  I recall that when Krystal built a new Hixson restaurant following the opening of Northgate in 1972, the building had this new look.

The Krystal Kritters

Other fast food chains were adopting mascots, and Krystal joined the move with the costumed Krystal Kritters.   I believe that there were three, and that one was a monkey.  Can someone confirm, and tell me what the other two were?

Working Downtown and Lunch at the Site of the Original Krystal

I didn’t eat at the Krystal every day, but it was on my rotation.  I would sometimes think about my father telling that when he was a young working man, the Krystal was one place that had consistent quality at an affordable price.  Krystal fit my budget, too.

Many were disappointed to see the original Krystal location close.  Shortly before the closing, I was there the day that a mop caught fire in a back room.   That cleared everyone out in a hurry!

A Krystal Museum in Downtown Chattanooga?

The aforementioned Chattanoogan.com article mentions a possible Krystal museum in downtown.  It would be nice to see this at the Seventh and Cherry site, or at least in the central city area that so badly needs a spark. 

A combined Krystal restaurant and museum could work, just like the KFC and Sanders Cafe museum in Corbin, KY.

Best wishes to Krystal on future business plans. 

If you have memories of Krystal, please send me an e-mail at jolleyh@bellsouth.net.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


James County Historical Society Meeting is August 3

The James County Historical Society will meet Sunday, August 3, at 2:30pm in the Ooltewah Methodist Church in the Sunday School addition.   The program will be presented by Larry Williams; its topic will be the “The Re-birth of a Model T Ford”.  The program will relate to old cars and to roads of the Old Jim County era. If you use email, please send your email address ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain Genealogical Society Meeting is August 5

The Signal Mountain Genealogical Society will meet at the Walden Town Hall, 1836 Taft Highway, on Tuesday, August 5, 2014 at 1:00 pm. Refreshments will be served, followed by a short business meeting and program.   The speaker for the meeting will be  Jim Dodson who will deliver a presentation entitled,  "Letters from Mississippi  1860 - 1868. ”   ... (click for more)

Harr Outlines $40 Million Plan For Chattanooga Light Rail System

Outgoing Chamber of Commerce President Ron Harr on Monday outlined a $40 million plan for a Chattanooga light rail system that would serve not only downtown, but also the Airport and the Enterprise South Industrial Park. In a speech to the Chattanooga Engineers Club, Mr. Harr said most cities looking at such an ambitious plan "would be facing costs of over a billion dollars." ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Choo Choo Adding Clubs, Restaurants In $8 Million Renovation

The historic Chattanooga Choo Choo is adding clubs and restaurants in a $7 million renovation, it was announced in front of the South Market Street landmark on Monday morning. The Comedy Catch will be moving from its longtime home in Brainerd and there will be a new 500-person music venue that will be in addition to Track 29. The new venue, managed by Track 29, will feature a ... (click for more)

Senator Bob Corker: An Open Letter To Tennesseans

We are incredibly fortunate to live in a state in which companies worldwide are clamoring to establish a presence. Many attribute it to our pro-business culture, well-prepared workforce, low tax environment, right-to-work policies, and engaged citizenry.  That is why the announcement by Volkswagen to build its midsize sports utility vehicle and establish the South’s ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Wamp Refuses To Stoop

With less than two weeks before the Aug. 7 th election and the last week of early voting now underway in Hamilton County, Congressional challenger Weston Wamp sounded upbeat and relaxed early yesterday afternoon. “I’m pleased to say that I believe we are right where we need to be … maybe even more than we had hoped.” Wamp, who is challenging two-term incumbent Chuck Fleishmann ... (click for more)