By JACK WEATHERLY
Krystal opened its first cafe that specialized in the tiny, square hamburgers during the Great Depression.
The first customer in the original stand in Chattanooga in 1932 ordered six hamburgers and a cup of coffee for a total of 35 cents, according to the company.
The company did not respond to a request for a breakdown on that ticket, but presumably it’s 5 cents per burger and 5 cents for the coffee.
And it’s easier to get them in the new model for the stores, the first of which was unveiled recently at 3857 Highway 80 West in Jackson.
It’s the first drive-through in the 11-state chain.
“Jackson is mission critical to Krystal,” President and Chief Executive Paul Macaluso said in a release. “It is a top-10 market in terms of performance. Our sales here are 25 percent higher on average than anywhere else in the system.”
As with the Highway 80 store, Krystal plans to raze and rebuild Jackson locations on Lakeland Drive and Ellis Avenue in the next 18 months, the company said in the release. There are 12 restaurants in Jackson out of a total of 362, 40 percent of which are more than 40 years old, the company said.
The Highway 80 store is in the shadow of the now vacant 1.25 million-square-foot Metrocenter Mall, which closed last month within days of the new Krystal’s opening, after 40 years and many struggles in recent years.
The Highway 80 West corridor is a depressed part of the city, with many abandoned buildings, scrap-metal yards and title and payday loan shops.
Like Volkswagen, another Depression-era innovation that eventually added other versions of the original model, Krystal has expanded its menu.
Now you can order breakfast sandwiches, chicken sandwiches and even little hotdogs.
And, of course, the tiny burger with a sprinkle of onion, slice of pickle and dollop of mustard. You can get a 24-piece bag of them for $19.99 these days.
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