Before diving deeper into those refreshes, Macaluso shares an anecdote that illustrates the changing dynamic within Krystal’s organization.
The company decided earlier in 2019 to reopen franchising. With some positive momentum and press, Krystal was garnering inquiries from prospective operators. Yet Macaluso thought it would be telling to first address a different reality. Krystal, which has 202 company stores and 116 franchises, had zero restaurants in the pipeline for franchise growth. That even with 22 existing operators.
Macaluso went to the group and asked them, “Who would like to open [a store]? Is anybody interested?” he recalls.
From that question alone, 15 development agreements were signed. “I think they saw the new executive team and the direction we were headed and they had the confidence to do that,” Macaluso says. “That was step one.”
After that, Krystal felt ready to explore external expansion. The Jonesboro team already has the site picked out and had previous affinity for the brand, like many people Macaluso comes across. Only now those memories align with real business potential.
Krystal had a Jonesboro location close in 2002 and the new unit will mark just the second restaurant in the state, joining a West Memphis store.
Macaluso says they were motivated by the market’s fondness for Krystal and what bringing it back would mean to the community. But it didn’t hurt they were also getting one of the new prototypes, and all the optimism that comes with it. The restaurant features an expanded kitchen, square shape (like the burgers), and bright, vibrant design elements.
There are nine rebuilt locations currently, and some of the results are almost hard to wrap logic around. And this is without moving the restaurant or changing its menu. It’s just a redesigned Krystal where an old one stood.
The brand keeps a tally of the period-by-period performance of these units. One store, which opened in August, saw its same-store sales erupt 181.6 percent in the first year-over-year comp. It went as follows for the next eight: 122.1 percent; 91.5 percent; 89.5 percent; 72.8 percent; 73.7 percent; 85.4 percent; 78 percent; 83.4 percent.
Four of the nine scrape and rebuilds witnessed comps balloon triple digits in the first period—all at 130 percent or higher. The lowest performer was a 51.1 percent hike versus last year.
Overall, Krystal’s updated fleet tracked 97.9 percent better on average in the first period, followed by 68 percent, 48 percent, 49.8 percent, 41.3 percent, 38.6 percent, 41 percent, 38.5 percent, and 66.2 percent. Not every store figured into all nine comps based on length of opening, but the picture is pretty crystal nonetheless.
This was a brand and customer base hungry for change.
“Same menu, same location, just a new building,” Macaluso reiterates. “And you see how people really flock back to the brand.