- White Castle plans to open a new takeout-only location next to an Orlando, Florida location that it opened last year, marking the chain's debut in Florida, The Orlando Weekly reports.
- The 1,800-square-foot unit will only offer pickup and delivery for digital orders. White Castle told the Orlando Sentinel last month that the new restaurant will allow the chain to focus on drive-thru and dine-in customers at its first Orlando restaurant, which is its largest unit at 4,567 square feet. That location is expected to sell 5 million sliders by its May anniversary and post a yearly sales record, and will start operating 24 hours per day starting this summer.
- White Castle is the latest quick-service brand to add an off-premise-only location as increased delivery demand holds steady. The NPD Group found delivery grew by nearly 90% in 2020 versus 2019, and another 17% in 2021 versus 2020.
Despite the return of dine-in business, several major restaurant chains have added off-premise-focused concepts as sales volumes remain high and these businesses try to ease operational burdens at their traditional restaurants.
Jimmy John's, for example, opened its first drive-thru-only restaurant in February, while Wingstop recently opened a restaurant with no dining tables to focus on delivery and to-go orders. Several chains, including Inspire Brands, Wendy's and Chick-fil-A, are experimenting with ghost kitchens and virtual brands to better capture off-premise orders.
White Castle's takeout-only model is intended to directly support operations at a busy traditional location, rather than expand the chain's reach to new delivery markets.
Growing numbers of digital diners make operational efficiency crucial for takeout-only restaurants. According to the National Restaurant Association's 2022 State of the Industry report, 71% of adults say they are likely to order digitally from restaurants.
Digital demand overwhelmed White Castle's ghost kitchen in Orlando last winter, forcing it to temporarily halt operations just two hours after it opened. The company was using that ghost kitchen to help create buzz prior to the opening of its 4,567-square-foot brick-and-mortar location.
As part of its efforts to boost efficiency, White Castle has also deployed Miso Robotics' Flippy 2 at about one-third of its locations to take over its kitchen fry stations. The chain is also testing a digital voice assistant which interacts with drive-thru customers to speed up ordering.