(Krystal.com web site image)
After seeing several news stories today about the current owners of Chattanooga-based Krystal looking to sell the company, I wondered to myself if White Castle, the other regional chain famous for small, square burgers, might be interested in buying it.
But from the sound of this Chattanooga Times Free Press article, White Castle isn't interested at the moment, at least publicly.
A little background, if you're not aware: White Castle was founded in 1921 in Wichita, Kansas, and was the inspiration for the founders of Krystal 11 years later. The companies -- both of which resisted the urge to franchise for decades -- remained regional, and stayed out of each others' way until recent years. I recall that when White Castle moved into Nashville, that became the first market where they actually competed head-to-head.
According to this map, Kentucky and Tennessee are currently the only states where they overlap. (Also notice that White Castle is no longer in Kansas, despite having been founded there.)
The small, square burgers have a few differences. White Castle burgers have five holes punched in them, which Team Castle claims aids in the onion-scented steam penetrating the bun as the hamburger cooks on the griddle.
Unlike Krystals, White Castles are served without mustard; it's provided for you to add yourself if you like it.
There are also vast differences in the rest of the menu, especially since some White Castles operate under a dual-franchise arrangement with Church's fried chicken.
I've loved both companies' products for years. I come by it honestly; Mom craved them when she was pregnant with me. I was born in Nashville, Krystal country, but the first place I remember living as a child was Louisville, Ky., which was White Castle territory. My brother lived for a number of years in California, my sister-in-law's home state, and when they decided to move to the southeast his mouth began watering at the prospect of Krystals. But they wound up in North Carolina, just about the only southeastern state where the chain doesn't operate.
Anyway, whatever company ends up buying Krystal, I hope they're able to preserve the chain and keep those sliders coming.