America’s first Krystal restaurant opened its doors in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee, on Oct. 11, 1932, spearheaded with just two men, its founders, Rody Davenport Jr. and J. Glenn Sherrill.
Today, 86 years later and counting, Krystal is upholding its legacy as a Southern icon by offering that “one-of-a-kind” taste you can’t find anywhere else.
Being America’s second-oldest fast-food restaurant, they still live by “The Krystal Kreed”:
1. To operate a spotlessly clean establishment.
2. To serve the best foods obtainable, properly cooked.
3. To render quick, efficient and courteous service.
4. To offer all these at the lowest price possible.
Opening in the harsh financial times of the Great Depression, the founders firmly believed that folks would patronize the Krystal by offering a good meal at the lowest price, while providing courteous service in a spotlessly clean atmosphere.
The restaurant became an overnight success, especially after their first customer, French Jenkins, ordered six Krystals and a cup of coffee, all for the bargain price of 35 cents.
The folks not lucky enough to find a seat inside would order a sack of Krystals to take with them, making Krystal the pioneer in the fast-food business by offering good food “to-go.”
I recall, as a child in the early 1950s, when going to Savannah on a shopping trip with my mama, she’d take us by the Krystal restaurant before returning home.
We could get those good little hamburgers for 10 cents each, and it seems to me the location was on Victory Drive, but I could be wrong. If any of you “old-head-locals” reading this happen to remember where, during those years, you might have gotten a Krystal burger, feel free to correct me on the location.
The last Krystal hamburger I had, and which spurred the idea for this article, was a few months ago.
On a trip to Savannah with No. 2 son, Beaufort County Sheriff P. J. Tanner, we of course went by the Krystal restaurant at 5405 Abercorn St. to get our fill of Krystal burgers, because when in Savannah you don’t go back home to Bluffton without swinging by a Krystal restaurant to chow down on these “one-of-a-kind” delicious burgers.
Granted, the price wasn’t the same as it was in 1950. Instead of 10 cents for a single burger then, it’s 95 cents now, with a Krystal cheeseburger topping off at $1.19, but you’re still looking at a bargain with taste that can’t be beat.
But, if you really want a good deal, especially if you’re hungry, as we were, you might as well get a combo meal for $8.99, which comes with 12 original burgers, a beverage and a side of fries, averaging the cost of the burger out to be 75 cents. Wow!
Since it was a nice day, we decided to “tailgate” our lunch in the parking lot.
Remarking on how delicious these little “slider burgers” are, P. J. started summing up their taste by saying, “When you take a bite you first taste the small, chopped and cooked onions mingled in the gracious amount of mustard spread on the soft, warm bun under a thin beef patty with two crisp dill pickles on top, covered with a liberal spread of ketchup to round it off, and when all of these flavors hit your taste buds it’s like ‘an explosion in your mouth’!”
Listening to his description, I decided to concoct my own “explosion” in a pie for lunch when I couldn’t go to get the real thing:
Jean’s Easy Krystal Cheeseburger Pie
1-lb. lean ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
Dash of salt and pepper
½ cup Mt. Olive Hamburger Dill Chips
Approximate 1/3 cup French’s Mustard
Approximate 1/3 cup Heinz Ketchup
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup “Heart-Smart” Bisquick Mix
1 cup skim milk
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 9-inch pie plate. Cook ground beef and onion until meat is brown; drain. Stir in salt and pepper. Spread in pie plate. Cover with Dill chips. Beginning at outer edge of pie plate, squirt mustard from container in a circular, swirling motion over dill chips, ending in the center. Cover with shredded cheese. Mix Bisquick, milk and eggs until blended. Pour over ingredients in pie plate. Creating a zigzag pattern, squirt the ketchup over the top of pie. Bake 25 minutes till light brown and bubbly around edges. Serves 6. Eat while hot to achieve tip-top, one-of-a-kind flavor. Enjoy!