Airport a deciding factor in Krystal relocation - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Airport a deciding factor in Krystal relocation

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- A company that has called Chattanooga "home" for nearly eight decades announced Thursday it is relocating.

The Krystal Company changed hands in March.

Its new management team says the appeal of a larger airport was a deciding factor in moving the company's restaurant support center to Atlanta.

"The birthplace of the Krystal Company will always be here in Chattanooga," says CEO Doug Pendergast.

But the company's corporate headquarters won't.

The new owners of the Chattanooga-based fast food restaurant announced plans to move to the Peach State.

"As we looked at the facts, it became obvious that it was much easier, faster, and cost effective to do that from a location in Atlanta," says Pendergast.

CEO Doug Pendergast says Georgia is the single largest state for the Krystal brand.

"We've got 20 restaurants here in Chattanooga," he says. "We've got 60 in Atlanta."

Chattanooga's airport was also a big deciding factor.

"We can get to anyone of our markets with a direct flight from Hartsfield Airport," says Pendergast.

"We know that an airport like Chattanooga can't compete with the number of non-stop flights an airport like Atlanta has," says Christina Siebold, with the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport.

Christina Siebold says the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport works to identify and meet the needs of local companies the best it can.

Pendergast admits the Krystal Company did not give Chattanooga's airport the chance to work with it on transportation needs.

"We did not engage in discussions with the airport or the city, and just made the assessment on the data we gathered ourselves," Pendergast says.

Pendergast says the savings on travel will allow the company to create more jobs.

Siebold understands a bottom line.

With boarding up five percent, cargo up 240 percent and overall airport operations up 15 percent over last year, she says, the airport is concentrating on retaining the growth and local companies.

"Obviously we would love to see every company stay in Chattanooga or move to Chattanooga, but we understand if the strategic plan changed."

Krystal, which has 60 corporate Chattanooga employees, plans to complete the move to Atlanta by next August.

Employees who do not relocate will be provided severance packages.

The company plans to open 150 new restaurants in the next five years.

An official Krystal museum will open in Chattanooga next year, to mark its 80th year in the Scenic City.

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