Making memories and celebrating them — that’s what birthdays are all about. So as part of a yearlong celebration of its 100 years serving the Original Slider, White Castle recently staged an event that its nation of fans, aka Cravers, would remember.
Streamed live from its new home office in Columbus, Ohio, the festivity featured celebrity well wishes ranging from late-night host Jimmy Kimmel to legendary rocker Alice Cooper while Lisa Ingram, president and chief executive officer and fourth-generation family member, and her father, Bill, paid tribute to the chain.
For Dave Rife, chief manufacturing officer and Ms. Ingram’s cousin, creating memories is part of the culture at White Castle, even at its two wholesale bakeries in Ohio and Indiana.
“Our mission is to create memorable moments every day, and how do you do that? You do it with people,” he said. “We talk about it in all the plants. It’s all about how you treat your customers. Maintenance’s customer is production. Production’s customer is logistics, and how do we get the products to our restaurant and retail manufacturing customers and take care of all of it to create memorable moments.”
Throughout the years, he added, White Castle has held promotions that develop loyalty to the brand, such as free burgers on National Slider Day and celebrating Valentine’s Day with hostess seating, tableside service and holiday decorations.
This year, it even brought back the 1921 burger, produced the same way they did a century ago, in limited restaurants around Cincinnati.
“It’s about the memories of going to the restaurant with your father, grandfather or other family member, or there’s some special moment in your life that goes back to White Castle,” Mr. Rife said.
White Castle’s centennial also reminded Mr. Rife of the daily challenges it takes to live up to that commitment.
“It’s the people who helped us get here all along, pushing us, and they work so hard every day to make sure what we do is of value,” he observed. “We’re providing a service, and we’re providing something extra, and that extra is that memorable moment, which helps endear us with our customers.”
This article is an excerpt from the July 2021 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on White Castle, click here.