How Krystal Restaurants were built to last in Chattanooga

Vintage photography courtesy of Krystal / A look back at the days when Krystal used to have a crystal ball, the inspiration for the restaurant’s name, on every building.


Founded in 1932 during the first years of the Great Depression, Krystal began in Chattanooga, by entrepreneurs Rody Davenport Jr. and partner J. Glenn Sherrill. Davenport's wife, Mary, came up with the restaurant's name after noticing a crystal ball lawn ornament. Since the founders felt cleanliness was a cornerstone of the business concept, they named the restaurant Krystal for "clean as a crystal" -- yet with a "K" to add a twist. The first location opened at the corner of 7th and Cherry Streets in downtown Chattanooga, at 25x10 square feet in size and a construction cost of $5,000. The first order placed at Krystal was on October 25, 1932, for six hamburgers and a cup of coffee, which cost 35 cents. Over the years, celebrities such as Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, Samuel L. Jackson, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and more have professed their love of Krystal burgers.


Krystal has been selling burgers for 90 years and boasts that it has sold more than 10 billion Krystals throughout the years -- grilled, square-shaped beef patties topped with diced onions, mustard, and a slice of dill pickle, served on a steamed bun.

The brand is now expanding its footprint, moving into the northeast United States and Puerto Rico for the first time since its creation. Super Bowl Champion Victor Cruz is a recent franchisee and has plans to build 10 Krystal locations in New York and his home state New Jersey.

Krystal is leaning into partnerships heavily to further their reach and awareness. The brand tapped 2Chainz, an Atlanta-based grammy-winning artist as its head of creative marketing. He and his team will be responsible for leading the creation of new platforms, partnerships, menus and merchandise in Atlanta.

Fun Fact

This year is Krystal's 90th birthday. It is the second oldest quick-service restaurant in the country.

View From the Top

"Krystal has been an iconic brand in the south for 90 years, and we are still an iconic brand," says Thomas Stager, company president. "We have remained true to our roots of being a value brand and fans continue to come visit us to enjoy the classic Krystals that we have made since the beginning. Our vision is to grow to 500 locations and bring our famous burgers to the entire country."


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  photo  Vintage photography courtesy of Krystal / The classic Krystal hamburger.
  photo  Vintage photography courtesy of Krystal / A new, smaller footprint Krystal Restaurants prototype that will be centered around off-premise dining.
  photo  Vintage photography courtesy of Krystal / The oldest Krystal location is still active today on Cherokee Boulevard.