The restaurant closed for good late Sunday night and a crane was working to remove the iconic sign from the front of the building Monday.
“At first I thought it was an April Fool’s joke when I heard about it on Sunday, but it wasn’t,” said Mary Ansley Southerland of Marietta, daughter of late former Mayor Ansley Meaders.
Unofficial word has it that the 30 Whitlock Ave. location was a company-owned store, not one owned by a franchisee; and that the company decided not to sign the new 20-year-lease for the .54-acre corner offered it by landowner F.C. Brooks Sr.
The traffic-choked corner at Whitlock and Marietta Parkway occupied by Krystal has seen many previous businesses come and go. Earlier occupants included R.R. Simms’ Service Station; the Grapette soft drink bottling facility; and Anderson’s Livery Stable.
The Marietta Krystal was built in the mid-1970s on what was then still known as Powder Springs Street not long before the radical transformation of that street and its environs by the construction of Marietta Parkway. It was a popular hangout for teens in those days, partly due to lack of competition and partly because it was within easy walking distance of what was then Marietta High School (now Marietta Junior High).
“It was a popular hangout in that era, especially after football games,” Mrs. Southerland recalled.
Her husband, local funeral director James Southerland, was a regular there, telling Around Town that he’d eaten at the Krystal at least three times a week for the past 25 years. Other “core customers,” you might say, include Davis McCollum, Reginald Kemp, Chad Carlisle and Realtor/photographer Johnny Walker.
Southerland told Around Town he’d heard a month or so ago that the restaurant might soon close. Then, as he and his wife were heading home at 11 p.m. Sunday evening after dining at Schillings on the Marietta Square, they noticed that Krystal’s was unaccountably dark. They stopped in and were told the eatery was about to close — for good.
“They let James turn out the lights and lock the door for the final time,” Mary Ansley said. “And they gave him the last two burgers off the grill. We took them home and put them in the freezer for safekeeping!”
The closure of the Marietta Krystal follows hard on the heels of last month’s sad news that Theatre in the Square, a block east on Whitlock, was closing its doors for financial reasons after 30 years.
So what’s next for the Marietta site? It’s not clear, but speculation Monday was that it would be a great location for a Starbucks or Waffle House or Johnny Rockets. Stay tuned.
MORE FROM HIZZONER: Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin has been the driving force behind plans to “re-premiere” the movie “The Great Locomotive Chase” on the upcoming anniversary weekend of the chase, April 12 through 15 at the Strand Theatre. And he devoted a goodly portion of last week’s “State of the City” speech he gave to the Marietta Kiwanis Club to promoting it.
He noted that the Kiwanis Club had sponsored the original premiere in 1956 and that the Kiwanians, (all men in those days) all wore white tuxedos to the show.
“But if you want to come, you can dress up, or wear era dress from that era or just come,” he said.
“For old guys like me, it’s nice to dress up and take your wife out to dinner and not have to dance,” he quipped.
MARIETTA MUSEUM OF HISTORY Chairman Harlon Crimm has called a board work session for 9 to 10:30 a.m. Monday to discuss the future of the financially troubled museum. The meeting will take place in the first floor meeting room. … The Museum and Blue Ridge Helicopters will offer chopper rides from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday to raise funds for the museum’s Aviation Wing on Atlanta Road. Rides will be $35 per person (cash only).
SUPERIOR COURT clerk candidate Rebecca Keaton has chosen attorney Jason Shepherd to serve as her chief deputy should she win election this fall. The personable Shepherd, 36, a UGA and John Marshall Law School grad, is an attorney with King & Spalding in Atlanta and formerly served on the staff of then-Congressman Newt Gingrich. He and his wife, Manuela, a special-ed teacher at Lost Mountain Middle School, have a son, Alexander. Incumbent clerk Jay Stephenson plans to retire when his term concludes this year.
GEORGIA Attorney General Sam Olens of east Cobb, who had a front-row seat last week during the oral arguments about Obamacare in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, will give a first-hand report of what he saw at Saturday’s Cobb GOP Breakfast. The event starts at 8 at Cobb GOP Headquarters, 799 Roswell St., in Marietta.
COBB EMC will remain in the headlines this week as it tries to fend off an effort by ex-CEO Dwight Brown to be paid the $1.8 million balance left on the consulting contract that he and then-board chairman Larry Chadwick signed on March 1, 2011.
Although the contract calls for any disputes to be settled in arbitration, the company has asked Cobb Superior Court Judge Stephen Schuster to clarify whether the settlement agreement of the 2007 lawsuit or his ruling last summer allowed for Brown’s consulting contract. Schuster will hear arguments from the sides this morning, though it’s unclear when he will rule.
A key point he’ll have to decipher is whether the board ever agreed to the contract and when. Although a press release announcing the contract said Brown had agreed to stay on as a consultant at the board’s request, the company now denies, in court filings, the board ever authorized “the material provisions” of the contract, including Brown’s pay.
As for the utility’s elections, Saturday’s turnout was the smallest yet since member meetings resumed last September, though historically, the meetings have been small, love-in type events on a weekday gathering at the EMC’s headquarters.
“They tooted their horn, but very little business was conducted,” Butch Thompson said. “The Varsity was there to serve hotdogs and hamburgers, and they gave door prizes and things.”
The electric membership cooperative has almost 174,000 members. In elections for six directors on Saturday — which fell on the first day of spring break — a total of 1,778 ballots were cast, making the turnout just 1 percent. Last Nov. 12, when four seats on the utility’s board were decided, there were 2,471 votes cast, for turnout of 1.4 percent.
At the Sept. 17 meeting, which was the first time in four years that the member-owners got to vote on anything related to the company, turnout was 2.1 percent, with 3,688 ballots cast. At that meeting, members decided against the use of mail-in ballots for director elections and in favor of ending retirement benefits for directors. The comparatively heavy turnout at that meeting signaled to most EMC-watchers that the Dwight Brown era was fast drawing to a close and that its end was a question of “when,” not “if.”
A few former directors of the utility showed up on Saturday, including R.J. Patel, Al Fortney and Sarah Brown. All four of the directors elected in November attended, including Chairman Ed Crowell, vice chairman David Tennant, secretary-treasurer Cheryl Meadows and Malcolm “Cooter” Swanson.
TWO OF SATURDAY’S RACES had so many candidates that they resulted in runoffs that are set for April 21. But one reform group, Take Back Cobb EMC, is calling for the second-place candidates in those races — David McClellan in Area 4 and Charles Sevier in Area 5 — to concede.
“A runoff for Areas 4 and 5 would cost the EMC and its members an estimated $250,000. That’s more member money, and more hours EMC employees are spending away from their families, and it’s not the kind of financially responsible decision members want. Mr. McClellan and Mr. Sevier are strong candidates who have brought a lot to this election, but it’s time to bring this hard-fought effort to an end,” said Joel Mendelson, the coordinator of TBCE.
The top vote-getters in those races were Jim Hudson in Area 4 and Tripper Sharp in Area 5.