Krystal has arrived in Soddy-Daisy. While the small square hamburgers the Chattanooga-founded company is known for are the same as they've always been, much else about the new restaurant is not.
Located in a small strip mall near the Harrison Lane exit, the Soddy-Daisy restaurant is the company's second location to use the Krystal Too storefront model. Krystal first tried out the concept in March with a location in Tucker, Ga., also in a strip mall, and like the Soddy-Daisy restaurant, that facility lacks a drive-thru.
Krystal Too's menu also differs from that of a standalone Krystal, lacking breakfast items and the company's larger hamburgers.
"We are always looking for new ways to offer the Krystal experience to our passionate Krystal lovers," said Brad Wahl, vice president of marketing for Krystal. "We knew we had a loyal following in Soddy-Daisy, and this concept along with the location was great timing and a great fit."
The space now occupied by Krystal Too has historically had high turnover, according to Soddy-Daisy resident John Stewart, who stopped by the restaurant to pick up a sack of Krystals for his wife. He said half a dozen restaurants, including several pizza places, have opened and closed recently in a portion of the space now occupied by Krystal Too.
A typical Krystal restaurant derives 70 percent of its revenue from drive-thru customers, with only 30 percent of customers choosing to dine inside, according to Wahl. Despite the restaurant's lack of drive-thru revenue, he considers it to be a success thus far.
"Since we opened last month the response has been very positive," he said, adding that the Tucker, Ga., Krystal Too location has also been very well received.
Terri Longman, who commented on the North Hamilton Weekly Facebook page that "the execs wanted to test our market to see if we could 'sustain' a full store," said the restaurant's lack of a drive-thru, insufficient parking and limited menu - particularly the lack of chili - are among the aspects of the Krystal Too concept that irk her.
"It seems like it was set up to fail from the beginning," she wrote. "I mean, when was the last time you actually went inside a Krystal? Something just seems not right about the whole thing. I would be interested in knowing just how many stores are actually in a strip center vs. standalone, and their success rate. It has been so hard for our city to get restaurants here, and the biggest, locally owned one does this to us? It's a joke! Surely I'm not the only one who feels this way."
Previously a locally owned business, Krystal was purchased in March by Argonne Capital Group, an Atlanta private equity firm.
Krystal has approximately 400 locations in 10 states, only two of which use the Krystal Too model. Wahl said he is unsure if the company is planning any additional Krystal Too restaurants.
"This industry is always changing as far as trends and what the customer is looking for, so I really don't have an answer for that right now," he said. "But, as I mentioned earlier, the Krystal Too is doing very well.