“In the next five years, Krystal leaders want to open 500 stores around the South,” Nooga.com recently reported.
I cannot say whether my life would be better or worse without Krystal food. It certainly would be different. Like many other Chattanoogans, I’ve consumed more food from this greasy establishment than I’d like to think about. Ahhh, Krystal: always satisfying, instantly regrettable. Krystal and I have an on-and-off-again relationship, with many nights of passion and an equal number of nights where the police probably should’ve been involved. With the announcement that Krystal plans to open hundreds of more stores in the South, I thought it might be fun to recount some of my most interesting experiences with this fast-food chain. What are your Krystal stories they’d never put on a box?
The Jack incident
This was one of those nights that I probably shouldn’t remember. Oh, but I do, every gory detail. Early on in the night, I purchased a large bottle of Jack Daniel’s and challenged my roommate to a gentleman’s game of “Caution.” This is a game I invented to make NASCAR races more interesting for people who don’t care about NASCAR races. The rules are simple: Every time the caution comes out, we take a shot of Jack. This particular race ended up having 11 cautions. Thus the night began. We ended up at someone’s house. My roommate ended up sleeping in a bush and losing both his pants and dignity. I ended the night by having another roommate drive my car back to our dorm, but not before he decided to stop and pick up some Krystal burgers on the way home. I remember hearing him saying the words “extra onions” before spewing the entire contents of my stomach all over myself—in my own car. It took weeks to clean, and I haven’t touched Jack Daniel’s since. However, my relationship with Krystal was just getting started. In retrospect, I should’ve switched the two.
3 a.m. flight
One of the issues with having a Krystal craving at 3 a.m. is having to deal with all of the other people who are having a Krystal craving at 3 a.m. with you. These people are always drunk and lacking a sort of grace and patience that you’d normally find at, say, noon. One evening, I found myself three cars back from the drive-thru window. A couple approached my window, and a woman asked me if I would buy her food so she wouldn’t have to wait in line. Typically, I would’ve done this with no hesitation, but for some reason that night, I felt the need to play the part of the morality police. I said no and rolled my window back up. At this point, the man—her boyfriend and protector, apparently—jumps on the hood of my car. He begins screaming obscenities at me through the windshield while on all fours on my hood. This is the part of the story where my judgment fails me. I get out of the car and try to run inside the building. It is locked, of course, but thankfully an employee recognizes my situation and lets me inside. We watch the couple run away from the building down the street. I learned that day that I shouldn’t be the type of person who waits in line for Krystal food at 3 a.m., but that also I’m a coward when it comes to fighting. Thank you, Krystal.
My favorite meal at Krystal has always been a No. 5 combo, no pickles, unsweetened tea to drink. I don’t know why pickles on chicken is disgusting to me, but it absolutely is. In my years of ordering this exact same meal over and over again, I have only received accidental pickles three times. Now that’s customer service! Most fast-food restaurants will blatantly ignore your specific requests. Try to order a Big Mac “quartered, airplane-style with lettuce/mayo on the side,” and see if they get it right. They won’t. However, Krystal is different. I truly believe that if I asked for my pickles to be skewered on top of the Chik sandwiches, with a cherry and whipped cream, they’d do it, no questions asked. This isn’t really a story, but I wanted to share my enthusiasm for how Krystal has handled my pickle issue.
I was once scammed by a homeless person at Krystal. This gentleman stopped me in a parking lot and asked for $5 so he could “get something to eat.” I offered to take him out to dinner, but he said he’d “hate to put me out with such an inconvenience.” “Nonsense,” I replied, and offered to drive him to Krystal for couple of burgers. On the drive down Broad Street, he gave me a sob story like you wouldn’t believe: wife left him, kids won’t talk to him, a veteran of some war, alcohol issues, no place to sleep, etc. He even made a point to tell me that he’d “never had Krystal before” and was looking forward to such a delicacy. I felt good about myself for once. Maybe I wasn’t such a selfish person after all. If my life was going to be worthwhile, it had to start with helping those less fortunate. At Krystal, we ordered our food, and he asked for his “to go.” I was under the impression we were dining in, but whatever. As long as I was helping him out. The Krystal employee watched him leave with his food and came over to where I was sitting. She said, “You shouldn’t buy Steve anything ... he’s in here every day with a different person.” Apparently, “Steve” had eaten at Krystal three times that week already. This is what I get for trying to be nice.
I can’t believe I’m about to do this to myself. OK. Deep breath. I’ve only done what I’m about to tell you two other times in my life: once after eating some bad shrimp at a seafood restaurant when I was 10 years old and another time when I was too sick to get out of bed. This particular incident started with the consumption of half a “steamer pack” (roughly 12 Krystal hamburgers) and the start of a stomach bug. I remember shooting pool at the Chattanooga Billiard Club one moment, and almost instantly, I found myself in my car driving home with my pants full. In retrospect, I knew something was wrong early in the afternoon, but I never thought it would end the way it did—with a shameful drive home and the necessity of a garden hose. I do not blame Krystal for this—or any of these incidents. This company has provided far more pleasure than pain along the way, and I only hope these 500 new stores will create more memories for all of you.
Have any Krystal stories? I’d love to read them.