The Krystal Company is a fast-food gem of the South. The company's chain of more than 350 restaurants in almost a dozen southern states are known for their petite, square hamburgers (what Northerners might call a slider). In addition, Krystal's menu features a larger-sized hamburger, chicken wings and sandwiches, chili dogs, and breakfast items. The company also sells its frozen burgers through grocery stores. More than 230 Krystal locations are company-owned, while the rest are franchised. The chain got its start in 1932 when R.B. Davenport Jr. and J. Glenn Sherrill opened up shop in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Private investmestment firm Argonne Capital Group acquired the chain in 2012.
Argonne Capital Group, which already has investments in hundreds of IHOPs and Applebee's locations, sees an opportunity to capitalize on Krystal's recent run of success. Krystal ended 2011 with increased sales, an increase in per-transaction sales, and consistently outperforming competitors in driving traffic last year. Krystal has enjoyed continued sales growth so far in 2012.
Krystal's long history and strong association with the Southeast has made it a regional favorite. The company has relied strongly on that brand loyalty to help it compete with national chains such as McDonald's and Burger King. Taking a page from its Northern doppelgänger White Castle, Krystal has been focused on using social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to maintain customer loyalty through various product promotions and contests.
While it has yet to make significant investment in expansion outside the Southeast, the company has been slowly adding corporate-run locations to its chain. Krystal has also added some new menu items to boost business, including an energy drink called Krystal Blitz.
Krystal was a family-owned business until it went public in 1992. Sanford, a former Coca-Cola executive, led a buyout of the company five years later. He retired as CEO in 2003 and was replaced by former Wendy's franchise operator Fred Exum. – less