Valentine’s Day, no matter your opinions of it, does not typically inspire images of fast food when booking reservations. But since 1993, White Castles across the country have been dressing up their dining rooms and taking reservations for that special day. What, you might ask, could possibly make a fast food restaurant right for Valentine’s Day dinner? To get to the bottom of this, I talked to Lisa Karl, office supervisor at the White Castle area office.
Between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. this Friday diners at White Castles will be treated to tablecloths, votive candles, balloons and printed menus. The food will be the same, but employees will act as wait staff bringing table service to the realm of fast food. According to Lisa Karl, each ‘castle’ will have photo booths as well as ambience set with music. Pictures from those photo booths will be available online March 3rd.
Karl also mentioned that while the event is just really fun, it is also great for families. Castles have played host to first dates and weddings on previous Valentine’s Days. Some patrons like the experience and atmosphere so much they’ve returned year after year; some for up to 10 or 15 years. All of this contributes to what Karl thought the main goals of the event were: making memorable moments and having unique experiences. In terms of reaching those goals, it should be noted that White Castle is the only fast food chain to celebrate the holiday, and transforming the fast food setting into one that not only requires reservations, but one where you’d want to make them is quite the unique feat.
Now, before you drop your copy of the paper and head to the nearest White Castle (1120 University Ave W, St. Paul, MN), you should know that in the years since 1993 when it all started in St. Louis, the event has grown in popularity. Dining in restaurant (rather than getting take out) requires a reservation between 5 and 9 p.m. At the 20 castles in the Twin Cities region, most of those reservations are already claimed. When I spoke to Karl on Wednesday afternoon, the only remaining times were around 9 p.m. This is especially impressive since Karl says White Castle does not advertise the event other than with in-store posters. For a glimpse of the action, or at least the decorations, you could always try dropping by for some takeout.