Monday, February 6, 2012

Tucker Tests Krystal Too

Chattanooga, Tennessee-based Krystal will soon open a new store near Northlake Mall on LaVista Road in Tucker.  The eatery will be located within Northlake Square shopping center, anchored by Best Buy.  The new Krystal will be an in-line location, meaning it's not a Free Standing Unit (FSU), and as such will not have a drive-thru.  The restaurant is 1,700-square-feet and is one of the first of Krystal's new locations code named "Krystal Too."  Krystal plans to test the new storefront model in strip malls and other high density locations in Atlanta first, and if successful, open additional locations in other markets.

While in Acworth recently checking out the next generation RaceTrac, I noticed a Krystal in-line location, but it was an end-cap, and has been there for a while, I'm told.

The first Krystal opened in Chattanooga in 1932, modeled after Columbus, Ohio-based White Castle, a similar eatery that pre-dates Krystal by 11 years.  Oddly, White Castle's first location was in Wichita, Kansas although today the chain has no presence in the state of Kansas.  Each chain has roughly 400 locations, but White Castle is in 11 states, whereas Krystal is in 10 states.  The only market in which the two restaurant overlap is certain parts of Tennessee, where White Castle operates co-branded outlets with Atlanta-based Church's Chicken.

Personally I find the Northlake location a bit odd for Krystal.  I have lived in the Northlake vicinity my entire life, and don't really think the center they are opening in is as much of a draw these days, especially at meal times.  Without a drive-thru, the restaurant must perform that much better inside, as historically, 50% of a typical QSR's ( Quick Service Restaurant) revenue is from drive-thru business.  The center also features a Mellow Mushroom and Lucky Key, an Asian eatery, so perhaps the affordability of Krystal will compliment the other, more expensive options.   While real estate may be more expensive, I think the place for a storefront location like this would be Buckhead, where Chick-fil-A has one of its few in-line locations in Terminus, or Dunwoody.

Krystal is scheduled to open February 13th and joins a slew of new eateries that have opened or will soon open in the Northlake area.  Not far away, Chick-fil-A opened a new location on land that formerly housed a Taco Bell.  Panda Express recently broke ground on a new eatery it will build in the parking lot of the Michael's anchored shopping center nearby.  Also, Chipotle Mexican Grill opened in the Publix / T.J. Maxx anchored shopping center on land that formerly housed a vintage-style Pizza Hut. (Pizza Hut relocated to a smaller, takeout/delivery only location in a neighboring center.)    

The vacant Fuddruckers in an outparcel of Northlake Festival shopping center has been the subject of a number of ongoing rumors.  Most recently I've heard talk of either a CVS Pharmacy or Olive Garden in its place.  CVS has no presence in the immediate area, although I'm told Walgreen's, which also has no area presence, already tried unsuccessfully to secure the space.  Olive Garden, from Orlando-based Darden, previously operated a restaurant on Northlake Parkway near Target, but it closed a number of years ago.  If it were to open in place of the Fuddruckers, it would complement nicely the existing and recently renovated Red Lobster, another Darden concept.

Do you live in the neighborhood and have thoughts on this latest addition to the Northlake area?  What do you think of Krystal's new storefront model, will it be successful?  What do you think should open in place of the vacant Fuddruckers?  Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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28 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Recently" may be a relative term, Krystal has been in Florida for at least 30 years.

It's a shame the last Krystal that was in Tucker closed down.

vox8 said...

That is a horrible location for the new Krystal concept. That parking lot is a nightmare to get in and out of and there is no where near enough parking spots for the businesses that are already there.

To be able to get in, get food and get out relatively quickly ... the would have been better served being over in the Toys R Us/PetSmart strip mall.

Why do this when they closed down the free standing unit on Lawrenceville Hwy?

As far as the old Fuddruckers location, an Olive Garden would be fantastic. We need another Drugstore like we need a new hole in the head.

Carl said...

I do find this to be a very odd location. I'm also surprised that I haven't noticed the construction, having just been in Northlake Square in the last week. Is this going into the former Alcove Coffee location?

One minor note: Krystal (or "Krystals" as many say) has been in MS for many decades. There are likely fewer locations now than when I was a child and they had more of their smaller, diner-like stores.

Anonymous said...

No, I don't think it will be successful. That parking lot always seems full and is hard to park in and navigate. The whole Northlake area is underserved as far as restaurants go (and shopping as well - they need to raze Northlake Mall). Northlake Festival is half empty. I'm not sure what should go in a Fuddruckers. There is no drugstore in the area, so maybe a CVS would be good. Personally, I avoid that whole area on weekends due to traffic.

Atlantan99 said...

Hey Anon RE: Florida locations.

Yes, you are correct. There was an error on the Krystal website that gave me the impression that their Florida expansion was far more recent than it is.

Thanks for reading and for the comment!

Anonymous said...

As a fan of an occasional Krystal hamburger (grew up with White Castle and it's the closest in the South), may I say that a Krystal without a drive-thru is a very bad concept. The whole idea is NOT to go inside since you really know you ought to be afraid, very afraid of what you might see in there. Also, I agree on the parking lot issues.

Atlantan99 said...

@vox8,

That's a good question regarding the closure of their Lawrenceville HWY location but perhaps it was not meeting expectations.

Thanks for the comment and for reading the blog!

Grant, the Hipster Dad said...

I like Krystal to an unhealthy and stupid degree, so I'm fascinated by whatever they do. Krystal had that test-concept called K Cafe up in Alpharetta in the middle of a Windward strip mall. I wonder whether anything from that concept will make it into this iteration.

Atlantan99 said...

@Carl,

Yes, the Krytal is opening in the former Alcove Coffee, suite 550.

Also, there were errors on the Krystal website that made it seem as though states like Mississippi and Florida just recently got Krystal stores, something I doubted then but now know to be false.

Thanks as always for reading and for the comments!

Atlantan99 said...

Hey Grant,

I believe the K Cafe closed due to it being unsuccessful so I doubt that'd try to incorporate too much of it in this new test. I think the problem was getting people to buy into the idea that "K Cafe" was that much different than a typical Krystal. I'm told the food was marginally better and it had a nice interior but that by no means puts em at the Five Guys level.

I wish em luck, but they should stick with what they do best and it aint fast casual or shopping centers... IMHO.

Thanks for reading and for the comments!

Kevin said...

Wow, I worked in that area for 18 months and really would have enoyed Chipotle. I agree they need better dining options over there. Maybe make Northlake Mall more of an open air type facility or better restaurants there like they did at Perimeter and Cumberland. that really helped out those malls a great deal. Not sure if they have the same demographics though

Scotty said...

Interesting. As others have said, I'm surprised Krystal is moving into the Best Buy shopping center because the parking lot is a nightmare. I live in the area, but haven't been to Best Buy in years (the only draw of that shopping center) because the parking is such a pain. Perhaps they'll draw a decent business from being so close to several hotels and to the interstate. They won't have a drive through, but they're still a quick, cheap option.

As far as the Fuddruckers location, I'm not sure I'd want to see another drug store go in. There isn't one in the immediate area, but there are plenty of drugstores close by. I'm also not sure about Olive Garden, since they've already tried the Northlake area and had to close up. A Macaroni Grill or a free standing California Pizza Kitchen could be nice. It would also be nice to have a restaurant in the area that is a little bit nicer - not fancy, just a step up from Olive Garden or Red Lobster - Houstons, or Houlihans for example, which is most likely wishful thinking. If the space weren't so big, I'd suggest Starbucks move out of the Northlake Festival space and open up there.

mindspringyahoo said...

I've got young kids and just last night gave our daughter some frozen White Castle burgers, so I might stop by and try the Krystal, but it will definitely struggle there.

The Fuddrucker space is quite perplexing, evidently even to the professionals.

I'm surprised none of the '24 hour fitness' type places haven't filled it. Those places come and go constantly, so no big loss.

TheJohnP said...

Still trying to wrap my head around the chosen location other than they probably got a good deal. I think the area could do well with a Krystal, just not sure if it is the right spot. Hopefully it does well so they do roll the concept out to other areas.

Not sure about the Fuddrucker space either. Even when it was occupied, just never seemed to be noticeable from the road. Just the other day I was driving in the area and amazed there wasn't a CVS/Walgreens/Rite Aid in the immediate vicinity. It would make a decent spot for one, but if it was tried and failed, doubt it will come to pass.

Off course there is a lot of empty & available restaurant space in the area, like Steak & Ale, Schlotsky, the former Chili's/Twisted Taco (now Northlake Idol but who knows how long that'll last). And with Checker's closing down left & right, who knows how long that'll stick around either.

But at least there does seem to be positive and new growth in the area. Hope it continues.

Anonymous said...

I think the Fuddruckers location would be a nice place for Outback Steakhouse, Red Robin, Chilis, or Tilted Kilt.

Billy said...

Kobayashi ate 337 buffalo wings in 30 minutes. I wonder how many Krystal burgers he could eat. 200?? Sorry, I know this is WAY off topic.

Atlantan99 said...

@Anon,

As I may have mentioned in an earlier post, Chili's already had a Northlake area location, on Northlake Parkway but it closed upwards of 5+ years ago. It was for a while in operation as Twisted Taco and was most recently renamed Northlake Idol.

I doubt they return to the area.

Thanks for reading the blog and for the comments!

Atlantan99 said...

@Billy,

Good question. The Krystal "Square Off" was cancelled in 2010 and has not been put on since. Kobayashi won a number of the competitions over the years devouring as many as 93 burgers in an 8 minute span.

Thanks for reading!

TheJohnP said...

Stopped by the Target in the area and found out they are remodeling to make it either a Great Land or Super Target.

Definitely LOTS of development in the area these days.

Anonymous said...

Whoever said that Northlake Mall should be razed is spot on. What a dump that place has become. As for the old Fudrucker's location, I would love to see a nice brewpub move in. Good food paired with good craft beer. Tucker is starving for something like that. Look at the success of Local 7 as proof.

Anonymous said...

not sure I would be willing to park on already departmentalizing lot. Heavy traffic, few spaces....it would be the closets to me. I am open to try..wish someone would do something at fudruckers.

Anonymous said...

Furuchdders would make an excellent Persian Restaurant, It would be packed. closest is Chamnlee tucker..
lets bring different Cuban,Swiss, vietanmise.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if all this development and up-and-coming stuff will bring Northlake Mall back to life. It's so run down and when I was little (I'm 24 now) it was a great mall, now it's really seedy and trashy

Anonymous said...

As a life-long Krystal fan and Tucker resident, I am absolutely thrilled that they're opening a new location in the Best Buy Northlake shopping center. So what if it has no drive-thru? It's Krystal! Me and my best friend will go and they will make a movie about the journey we took trying to park. Then we will finally get inside and be overfilled with joyous square burgers. Time to rejoice Tucker!

Anonymous said...

I don't see this succeeding especially without a drive thru. Parking is a challenge to say the least and during peak hours it is a nightmare. And unless you are just IN that shopping center, you can't even tell the Krystal restaurant is there. Seriously I live within walking distance and never saw the construction and only saw the restaurant after I saw the cardboard street signs and it still took me over a week to find it and that was because I was determined to find it.

Sleepy J said...

A krispy kreme would do wonders at the old fuddruckers... there isn't a burger king in the area.. A burger king would be another option for breakfast other than mcdonalds and dunkin donuts.. or if wendys would serve breakfast at that location.. I work in the area and,I need more options.. chick-fil-a is a little too far and packed for my 30 min break.. we will see how the krystal works.. not sure

Anonymous said...

A little late here, but I eat at Lucky Key for lunch at least once a week, and the parking lot is already a major nightmare just to get in and out of, not including trying to park. I like Krystals but not sure why someone would want to go sit there and eat.

Any word on what's going in at the Checkers on L'Ville?

Anonymous said...

O.K. I visited this Krystal. NEVER AGAIN. The fries were so stuffed with cooling cooking oil that I had to wipe my lips off after a few of them and the inside of my mouth was coated. The burgers were NOT AT ALL reminiscent of what I remember from Krystals. A microwaved White Castle would have been better.

Seriously, you could tell that they had plenty of pre-cooked food that had probably sat around to long. There was no excuse for those fries.

I will NOT be back.