Friday, September 14, 2007

KREKEL'S: MORE THAN JUST A BURGER JOINT

I called Chris late this morning and asked him if he wanted to meet me for lunch. He said that he was really busy today, but wondered if I would bring lunch by instead. We agreed that Krekel's fit the noontime bill. For those of you who are reading this blog from out of the area, I should probably fill you in a bit on Krekel's. Krekel's is something of a Decatur legend - - they have fantastic cheeseburgers that are flattened and crispy on the edges. They also have vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and my favorite, lemon frozen custard. They are also somewhat know for their unusual chicken car. In our area, it is almost considered blasphemous to utter a disparaging word about our beloved Krekel's.

I stopped by the Krekel's on East Wood, the one that you get to right after crossing MLK. I pulled in and parked in the back, then came around front to the dilapidated little burger stand to place my order. The smells wafting from the stand were enough to make my stomach growl. I am always a little embarrassed though, when I order my cheeseburger, fries, and DIET Coke. Gotta save those 200 calories with my Diet Coke so I can eat my burger and fries with 40 grams of fat. Maybe I am hoping they will somehow balance each other out.

At any rate, after I had placed my order, I stepped back from the counter and waited while my food was prepared. It generally only takes about 4-6 minutes, depending on how many other people are waiting. As I stood in the parking lot with the other folks waiting for their lunch, I made the most incredible social observation: Krekel's may be the only place in Decatur that I have ever seen different classes and races of people interact so openly and freely with one another.

In the five minutes or so that I waited for our lunches, I observed social interactions that I dare say you wouldn't see anywhere else in town: as everybody stood around and waited on their order to come up, they. . . talked. To each other. There was a business lady in a skirt and heels chatting with two guys off a construction crew. I saw an elderly gentlemen who pulled in a Cadillac stand and talk to a kid with a half dozen tattoos who was holding up his pants with one hand to keep them from falling down. I even watched a guy in a three-piece suit who drove in a Mercedes convertible help a guy driving a pimped-out Blazer, complete with spinners, carry his large order to his vehicle so he wouldn't drop it. I stood and talked with a nurse from St. Mary's while I waited on my order.

What is it about Krekel's that inspires this sense of community and togetherness? Why do various races and classes of people feel comfortable associating at a run-down little burger stand when they would never have anything to do with each other away from there? Perhaps when our community is studying ways to bring about positive change, they need to examine the Krekel's phenonemon. Krekel's: bringing the community together, one burger at a time.

5 comments:

Julianne said...

What is it about Krekel's that inspires this sense of community and togetherness? Why do various races and classes of people feel comfortable associating at a run-down little burger stand when they would never have anything to do with each other away from there?

It is deliciousness, pure and simple.

Audrey said...

Hello,

I know this may be a bit creepy -- someone you don't know commenting on a random Blogger entry you wrote months ago.

I have a LiveJournal account and made a CD for a lot of out-of-town friends with the song "Decatur, or A Round of Applause for your Stepmom" by Sufjan Stevens as one of the tracks. You may not know it, but it's a great track off of a great CD entitled "Come on, Feel the Illinoise." One of the lyrics goes, "Chicken mobile with your rooster tail/ I've had my fill and I know how bad it feels." Since this is a seemingly inexplicable thing to say, from an outsider's perspective, I did a search on Google for a picture of the Chicken Mobile, and came upon your entry!

*phew* THAT was a long explanation.

Anyway, I just wanted to tell you that I thought your entry was incredibly insightful. As a born-and-raised Decatur resident, Krekel's has always been a part of my life. And I have, on some occasions, realized -- however fleetingly -- how many DIFFERENT people enjoy the same, greasy, cheap, deliciousness that is Krekel's. How it brings us all together. And how nothing else that the city of Decatur has tried has ever produced the unifying results that Krekel's has.

Sometimes it seems that the different events hosted in Decatur only serve to divide the community more, not unite us. It's sad to watch what happens at the Celebration or to see all the same-looking people at events like the jazz festivals or art fairs or Christmas tree displays at the Civic Center. These things should bring us together, but instead I notice a very disparate and separate people when I attend.

I think we've happened upon a solution: Get Krekel's to provide the food. Then everyone will come! :)

No, it's much more complex than that. But I did so enjoy your description of the different people you witnessed interacting when you were waiting for your burgers.

Hope you're not too freaked out by the randomness here!

Thanks,

Audrey
(Fellow fan of Krekel's)

Anonymous said...

My best friend Chris' cat is named Krekel. I call her Krekel Burger. Sometimes I call her Tripple Cheese. At any rate he and I now live in Atlanta Ga. and very often pine for a lemmon custard and tripple chese. I went to MacArthur High School and had bowling instead of P.E. right before lunch. My friend Christy Maxedon and I would bowl our required 2 games in a rush so we coul haul the mail over to Krekel's at Colonial Mall to beat the lunch rush!!

narruc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Valerie said...

Love your post, found it looking for an image of the chicken car. Years ago, we arranged for the firstborn child of a friend of ours to come home from DMH in grand style in this fine vehicle.

Lovely post, but I would observe that I know two other places in town where races choose to mix in a spirit of real fellowship -- the YMCA, and Wes Smith's Smith Institute of Martial Arts. It's not just food that brings us together (though who can resist those burgers!) apparently, we're cool about getting together to work out and to learn stuff too.