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This Recently Bankrupt Burger Chain Is Growing Again

The nearly 90-year-old southeastern staple is back with major growth plans and new fries.

Old-school burger chain serving square-shaped sliders across the southeastern United States is back on the up and up after its recent bankruptcy filing.

Krystal, which has been around since 1932, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2020 and seemed to be outdated in several crucial areas: delivery, digital platforms, and menu. Now, the chain is back on an upward trajectory with a new store design and better food—and has even announced its first new franchisee in 15 years.

Here's what you can expect from Krystal when you visit next. For more, check out 6 Beloved Burger Chains That Have Closed For Good.

The bankruptcy filing

sign for krystal burgers
Billy F Blume Jr/Shutterstock

The Atlanta-based chain was in trouble before the pandemic even started. Its parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January of 2020, citing reasons that made it apparent the chain was becoming outdated amid stiff competition. The rise of online delivery platforms and shifting consumer tastes have all made it difficult for the brand to thrive, and the financial losses followed.

"The actions we are taking are intended to enable Krystal to establish a stronger business for the future and to achieve a restructuring in a fast and efficient manner," the company said in a statement at the time. "We are pleased to be ready to move toward a brighter future for the brand and have the support of our stakeholders."

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Improvements to the menu

krystal fries
Courtesy of Krystal Restaurants

Krystal recognized soon enough that changes were in order if the brand was to make a comeback, and tackled the improvements to its menu. They innovated on their long-standing menu favorite Chik pretty early on in the chicken sandwich wars and created a Nashville Hot version of the crispy chicken slider.

The chain also launched Fresh Cracked Egg Biscuits on their breakfast menu, which resulted in new egg sandwiches offered during one of their busiest dayparts.

But the most recent novelty for Krystal is the new fries. Just a few weeks ago the chain announced it is rolling out improvements to the ubiquitous side with a new recipe for square-cut fries with a crunchy coating.

Major growth plans

krystal restaurant drive-thru
Courtesy of Krystal Restaurants

The chain has also made investments into modernizing its operations with a smaller, more efficient restaurant design and improvements to its drive-thru functionality and delivery options. And with over 300 restaurants in operation today, the chain plans to onboard more franchisees to propel the brand forward.

"We have room to grow in our current footprint and are looking at increasing penetration in those markets while expanding to new markets," said Alice Crowder, chief marketing officer of Krystal, in a recent interview. "The benefit for us is that the spirit of Krystal is something that everyone connects with."

First new franchisee in 15 years

krystal interior
Courtesy of Krystal Restaurants

And the chain is already making good on those plans to expand—with the onboarding of its first new franchisee in 15 years. Yates Hospitality Services, LLC will be opening its first Krystal location this October in Dublin, Ga. The restaurant will be located at 1624 Veterans Blvd. and carry all the beloved craveable classics customers have grown to love.

The newest location will be in Dublin, GA. Yates Hospitality Services, LLC is the franchise partner that is taking on this momentous move for the brand. The restaurant, located at 1624 Veterans Blvd., is slated to open October 2021.

"It's been over 15 years since a NEW franchisee has opened a new Krystal, so this marks an incredibly exciting time for our organization and adds to the momentum that we've been building as part of our aggressive growth plans," said Thomas Stager, Krystal Restaurants LLC president, in a press release.

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Mura Dominko
Mura is ETNT's Executive Editor, leading the coverage of America's favorite restaurant chains, grocery stores, and viral food moments. Read more about Mura