Tears and Laughter - Everybody has a Krystal story!
February 1, 2020 | View PDF
Krystal is the South’s oldest fast food restaurant chain. They have been making little square hamburgers since 1932.
Having been around for so long, everybody seems to have a Krystal story. If for no other reason, you can go through a drive-thru and have a big bag of them riding shotgun with you for just over $5.
Krystal has always been a friend to night people.
Back during the late 80s and early 90s people liked to line dance. People still like to line dance I suppose, but back then it was extremely popular. It didn’t matter what anyone did for a living, come Friday night there would be bank executives and welders and educators who would come out all dressed up like they were about to go join the wagon train. And then they would commence to dancing side by side in a line until closing time.
Women could wear short skirts, long skirts, or tight jeans, but they absolutely had to have on a button down plaid shirt and genuine leather cowboy boots. They could be ostrich leather. They could be bright red with tassels, but the boots were a necessity. Hats were optional.
That was the routine. Some people went on Friday nights, some went on Saturday nights, some went on both nights. It didn’t matter if you could dance or not. And when the Diplomat made its last call…Krystal cast a welcoming glow just down the Bypass.
It was where we would go when the party was over, but the night still felt young or seemed to loom too long.
I moved to Montgomery from Clanton once I graduated from high school. I started college and took a job at Country’s Barbecue. The supervisors would plan work schedules around classes for several of us, which meant we all had the opportunity to help close a few nights a week.
Closing meant two or three of us would have to stay a couple hours past the time customers had left and the doors were locked. There was a lot of cleaning and vacuuming that had to be done and then we would turn the overhead music up and roll silverware. Country music. It played in the background of all of our conversations.
Some nights we rushed.
But other nights we would talk later than the tasks before us required. We would let ourselves out the side door into the quiet air with midnight approaching…and drive across the street to Krystal. No matter how late we worked, they would still be open.
Some nights I would go alone. I would sit in a corner booth watching what few cars still out on the Bypass, while contemplating the space between where I had always been and where I intended to go – with the company of couple of little square burgers.
Krystal filed a petition for federal bankruptcy protection Tuesday, January 2nd, in Dunwoody, Georgia where they are now based. Officials cited having more obligations than assets, a security issue involving payment cards used at certain location, and offering inexpensive food at a time when customers tastes and preferences have shifted as reasons for the filings.
Krystal will reportedly remain open as they pursue an orderly sale of the business. They hope to emerge from the restructuring, and I hope they do too. Saying goodbye to Krystal would be like losing an old friend. Even if you don’t hang out like you once did…there are memories.
Amanda Walker is a contributor with AL.com The Selma Times Journal, Thomasville Times, West Alabama Watchman, and Alabama Gazette. Contact her at Walkerworld77@msn.com or at https://www.facebook.com/AmandaWalker.Columnist.