Iconic square burger peddler Krystal files bankruptcy

Published 9:05 am Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Perhaps the South’s most famous small, square hamburger chain, Krystal, has filed for bankruptcy protection citing competition and changing consumer tastes among its biggest challenges.

“These challenges (together with company-specific business challenges) have resulted in deteriorating financial performance,” wrote Jonathan Tibus, Krystal’s chief restructuring officer.

The Atlanta-based company has more than 300 locations in the southeastern United States with one-third of those in its home state Georgia.

Mississippi currently has 24 Krystal locations and Alabama has 45.

The company was founded approximately 88 years ago in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The bankruptcy filing indicated the company’s debts are between $50 and $100 million. The restaurants will remain operational during the bankruptcy, the company’s filing stated.

Late last year, Krystal shook up its upper management bringing in a new President COO and CFO.

President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Ward and Chief Financial Officer Bruce Vermilyea joined the company bringing an abundance of restaurant experience.

Ward came from Captain D’s where he served as chief operating officer. During his tenure with Captain D’s, the company enjoyed eight straight years of positive same-store sales and developed a pipeline of over 100 new restaurant locations. Ward held previous roles at Arby’s/RTM and NPC International/Pizza Hut.