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Sliders for sale

Posted Thursday, August 4, 2011, at 12:34 PM

(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.

Showing comments in chronological order
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Also -- if White Castle did buy Krystal, would they convert it, or would they leave it as a separate chain?

When Carl's Jr. bought Hardee's, I think they test-marketed changing the name to Carl's Jr. in one small market. But it proved unpopular. So they ended up stopping short of a name change. They made some changes, bringing Hardee's closer to Carl's Jr., converting the Hardee's from griddles to grills and standardizing some of the menu items between the two chains, while still allowing Hardee's to keep its own name and identity.

-- Posted by Jicarney on Thu, Aug 4, 2011, at 12:52 PM

Changing Krystal Restaurants over to White Castles? Blasphemy.

Also, both chains have been the inspiration for many knock-offs, with their own version of little tasty greasy square burgers. In Cookeville, I believe the place was called Mitchie's, but we just referred to it as "Gut-Bombs."

-- Posted by Ragin'Cajun on Thu, Aug 4, 2011, at 1:05 PM

Ragin'Cajun I agree with you it is just plain blasphemy. From the time I was introduced to Krystals out on West End Avenue in Nashville, in the little white porcelainized covered building with counters and stools around the wall, and with the silver crystal ball on the outside wall, in the late 40s or early 50s until now, they have been my favorite food. Wow, that got my juices flowing. I must quit typing so I can go get me a sack of Krystals right now.

-- Posted by leeiii on Thu, Aug 4, 2011, at 4:53 PM

I agree, Krystals hamburgers are far better than White Castles and White Castle would ruin that if they bought out the other chain. Plus they both attract a totally different crowd of people . . . if you have gone to both you will know what I mean.

-- Posted by jaxspike on Fri, Aug 5, 2011, at 10:04 AM

I have had bad food from Krystal's the last three times I have gone there.....I also do not care for the unprofessional, unsanitary attitude of the employees when trying to just get what you payed for...fresh and hot and not over cooked....welcome to the food dilemma in Shelbyville.....I do like a Krystal from time to time, but only when i have had my feel of sugar sweetened vegetables from our home cooked restaurants, which by the way is not southern cooking to add sugar to everything....whats up with that?...I will not go back to our Krystal's

-- Posted by chefgrape on Fri, Aug 5, 2011, at 12:18 PM

Maybe someone needs to stay home and cook their own meals. LOL

-- Posted by jaxspike on Fri, Aug 5, 2011, at 1:33 PM

I prefer White Castle simply because the last time that I ate at Krystal's (1997) I got a very bad case of food poisoning. So I have never gone back to another Krystal's since. It was the location in LaVergne.

-- Posted by PrpleHze on Fri, Aug 5, 2011, at 3:19 PM

PrpleHze . . . that is how I feel about KFC. I have gotten really sick the two times I have been there so now I get my chicken from Zaxbys. YUMMY!

-- Posted by jaxspike on Fri, Aug 5, 2011, at 3:40 PM

jaxspike I agree. I ate at a White Castle in St. Louis, and I have eaten at many Krystal restaurants over the years. I prefer Krystal over the White Castle burger. When we lived in North Carolina the closest Krystal was 75 miles away in Greenville/Spartanburg. We made that 75 mile trip many times to get our fix on Krystals.

-- Posted by leeiii on Fri, Aug 5, 2011, at 4:04 PM

Leeiii . . . sometimes good food is worth the drive. I ate at a place in Walling Tennessee called Foglight Foodhouse and the food was so amazing. It was definitely worth the almost 1.5 hour drive up there and we will definitely be making some more trips to that place.

-- Posted by jaxspike on Sun, Aug 7, 2011, at 11:37 AM

I grew up in Akron, OH. We had a local outfit called the Hamburger Station. They sold REAL mini-hamburgers with fresh meat, homemade buttered buns, and real fries cut from the potato right before cooking. A box of these made our all-night study sessions on campus one of the fondest memories from college. I had one, and only one, so-called burger at White Castle, and have never touched another "slider" again at any chain.

-- Posted by nmonajjem on Tue, Aug 9, 2011, at 9:52 AM

You could call it Whistal's

-- Posted by mytaxesaremine on Wed, Aug 10, 2011, at 5:34 PM

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