Gerber: Krystal: A loss for our city

Gerber: Krystal: A loss for our city

October 7th, 2012 by Alison Gerber in Opinion Columns

Sometimes I feel like the only person in the city - perhaps all of Tennessee and Georgia - who's never eaten a Krystal hamburger.

Not once.

Many of my coworkers are fans of the square, steamed hamburgers lovingly referred to as "gutbombs," and I've listened to many a Chattanoogan explain to me why the little Krystal hamburgers are better than the little White Castle hamburgers that are famous up North. They're yummier, greasier, gutbombier, etc., etc.

But because of a choice I made many years ago to subscribe to a vegetarian diet, Krystals are not on my menu.

Still, I'm sad to see the hamburger chain move its headquarters from Chattanooga to Atlanta.

For one thing, Krystal has become an icon and a source of pride here since it opened its first restaurant on the corner of Cherry and Seventh streets in 1932. Krystal's always there when you're hungry at 2 a.m. And a tall building downtown bears its name.

Atlanta has plenty of corporate headquarters already. It's got giants like Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Chick-fil-A and Delta. Ten Fortune 500 companies are based in Atlanta. The ATL doesn't need another.

In the big bowl of Atlanta, Krystal is a little fish.

I know, I know, Atlanta has a big airport. Krystal officials say it will allow executives better access to the company's stores. But for anyone moving with Krystal from here to Atlanta, I have some advice:

Have a sackful while you're sitting in traffic.

• • •

In coming weeks, we will publish stories that took reporter Perla Trevizo all the way to Burundi.

Where?

Burundi, 7,746 miles from Chattanooga, is a small East African country nestled between Rwanda, Tanzania and the Congo.

Since 2005, about 80 Burundian refugees have moved to Chattanooga. Perla writes about what drove them here, how they are adjusting and how their lives are so different from their relatives who remained in Africa.

She traveled to Burundi on a grant from the Ford Foundation. A different grant from the International Center for Journalists and the Foundation allowed her to report last year on Guatemalans who once lived in Chattanooga but returned home or were deported.

In Burundi, Perla followed a similar path. She tracked down the relatives of some of the Chattanooga refugees and examined how their lives vary.

Her stories, along with photos she shot in Burundi and ones photographer Jake Daniels shot here, put into context why a war that happened in Burundi in the early 1970s is still impacting its people - and how it's affecting Chattanooga.

• • •

If you can't find anything to do in this city for the next week, you're not looking.

RiverRocks started Friday, ends Oct. 14 and features more than 90 activities ranging from rock climbing and trail running to stand-up paddleboard yoga and adaptive cycling.

See today's Metro page and go to timesfreepress.com for photos of RiverRocks events on Saturday.

Yesterday alone, RiverRock events included the Stump Jump, Sequatchie Valley Century, Tennessee River Rescue, Hot Air Balloon Glow and Swim the Suck. Whew!

All these events are a reminder that we're fortunate to live in a place with ample opportunities to have fun in the shadow of mountains and ridges and alongside rivers and creeks.