Victor Cruz is bringing a regionally famous southern fast food chain up north.
In December, Cruz and slider chain Krystal announced plans to open as many as five franchises in New Jersey by the end of 2023 — the first coming in his hometown of Paterson.
Cruz starred on the Giants from 2010-2016, catching a touchdown pass in Super Bowl 46 in 2012 as Big Blue upset the Patriots 21-17.
He spoke to The Post about being approached by Krystal and why he pursued the opportunity.
“When they told me they wanted to open not just in New Jersey, but in my hometown of Paterson, I just felt like it was a no-brainer,” Cruz said. “It was something I really wanted to attach myself to, not only to be part of this franchise in a major way, but also to bring opportunity and jobs to my neighborhood where I see young people really trying to figure it out. If I can be someone to give them a platform.”
Like many business deals, this one originated on a golf course.
Cruz was hitting the links with friend Jonathan Childs, an investor on Krystal’s board and owner of franchises of the chain, and their mutual friend Billy Jones (nicknamed Billy J.), whom Cruz describes as a “connector.”
“We just talked about it all: pros, cons, what Krystal’s about, their ethos. [Childs] gave me a look behind the curtain on all of it,” Cruz said. “As we continued to play, I started to ask questions. He led that they wanted to open in my hometown of Paterson and then expand from there.
“That’s what got me. I’m rooted in my hometown and giving back. If anybody wants to get to my heart and soul, they want to give back to that too, and I’m all in. Once we started to hash out the extent of it and I was in.”
Founded in 1932, Krystal currently has about 300 franchises across 10 states. The one Cruz is opening in New Jersey is their first outside SEC country.
Alice Crowder, the Chief Marketing Officer of Krystal, told The Post that they want to open in “as many [states] as we can … we are in a very aggressive expansion mode, we have deals in at least three other states that are in the process of being signed.”
As part of the expansion, Crowder was profoundly excited to partner with Cruz.
“After they golfed, Jonathan called me and said, ‘Do you know who Victor Cruz is?’ I was like, ‘Of course I know who Victor Cruz is.’”
“I think that’s amazing. Let’s go!” Crowder recalls answering immediately when asked what she thought about partnering with Cruz in the chain’s expansion. “How quickly can we do this? Let’s get it started.
“Krystal as a brand is about bringing little moments of delight into people’s days and making them a little bit brighter. To partner with somebody like Victor to bring it into a new territory, as a way of introducing us, and helping him expand his vision, what business wouldn’t love that?”