White Castle rolls out the red carpet for Valentine's Day
- White Castle is now accepting reservations via OpenTable or by calling its closest regional office for its 28th annual Valentine's Day dinner, available at most locations on February 14 and extending into February 15 at select locations, the company announced Tuesday.
- Replete with hostess seating, tableside service, decorations and tablecloths, the experience dates back to 1991 and went national in 2003, according to Eater.
- For the first time, customers also can order the Valentine's Day experience, including the Love Castle Crave Case, for delivery through Grubhub, DoorDash and Postmates.
White Castle's Valentine's Day event may be a marketing gimmick, but it's certainly beloved by its customers. More than 30,000 diners who have indulged in the Valentine's Day treat, and 75 couples have wed in one of the chain’s restaurants. The new delivery component will also help bring the popular experience to fans who may not be able to head out to restaurants or don't secure a reservation before they fill up.
Restaurant chains have been pulling out the stops to promote their new delivery capabilities. Chipotle offered free delivery for orders of $10 or more during college football season, and The Cheesecake Factory offered 40,000 free slices of cheesecake for anyone ordering via DoorDash as part of its 40th anniversary celebration. Pizza Hut also expanded its beer delivery service just in time for the Super Bowl.
Whether or not diners chose to eat out or at home, White Castle's nearly 30-year tradition has been particularly successful in developing social media allure — the chain encourages attendees to use the #whitecastle tag before, during and after their visit. In 2018, the chain encouraged family and friends to attend and developed a unique geofilter with Snapchat, Food & Wine reported.
Participating locations receive a "Point of Crave" box from headquarters with posters and promotional materials, as well as some funding for additional decorations or other creative ideas. During a past interview with Eater, the brand's vice president Jamie Richardson wouldn't disclose the budget offered to general managers who join the campaign, which he said is not required. Each location can have a little fun with it, which has meant red carpets, live music or fancy linens, according to Eater.
This year's menu will include the original White Castle slider as well as the new plant-based Impossible Slider, a change from 2016 when Shrimp Nibblers and Strawberry and Cream waffles made the cut.
Other chains have stepped outside their run-of-the-mill experiences, too. Taco Bell also hosts weddings at its Las Vegas Cantina restaurant, and took event reservations last fall at 10 U.S. locations to promote its revamped party packs. Of course, holiday deals take all shapes and sizes, with some chains going so far as Godfather’s hosting a fastest and most-accurate pizza maker competition to celebrate the 2012 Summer Olympics, according to Fast Casual.
White Castle hasn't shied away from the limelight in recent months, making waves with the national rollout of a $1.99 Impossible Slider with Kal Penn, the co-star of the iconic "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle" film, helping promote it. Bloomberg reported sales exceeded the chain's expectations by 30%, and market share was 250% higher at restaurants with the plant-based patty. Since this is the first Valentine's Day with meatless options on the menu, additional diners who may otherwise not have participated could join the experience adding to the growing popularity of this promotional event.