September 17, 2006 1:15 PM   Subscribe

Why aren't there any White Castle locations on the west coast?

Is the White Castle franchise just coastists?
posted by lain to Food & Drink (32 answers total)
It's not uncommon for franchises to have limited range. It's not just a name; franchisers like McDonalds and White Castle are suppliers to the individual restaurants. In order for them to sell franchises in a specific area, they have to build a distribution center there and make deals to acquire all the food they resell to the franchises.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 1:22 PM on September 17, 2006

Seems like they're in only 11 states. I'm sure the fact that they aren't franchised (the company owns all the stores) limits their growth.
posted by black bile at 1:22 PM on September 17, 2006

White Castle? In n Out?

What country are you from?
posted by lyam at 1:49 PM on September 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

No In N Outs OR White Castles in Washington state, dammit. This transplanted Minnesotan could use a slyder or ten.

Yes, you can buy White Castles frozen in our grocery stores, but it's so not the same.
posted by GaelFC at 1:56 PM on September 17, 2006

Hey, Washington (at least Southwest Washington) has Burgerville -- the greatest fast food chain on the face of the planet.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 2:52 PM on September 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

In order for them to sell franchises in a specific area, they have to build a distribution center there

true enough ... although one would think that wouldn't stop them opening up more restaurants in the regions they're already in

i have two choices ... detroit or chicago ... and that's just too far for a hamburger
posted by pyramid termite at 2:56 PM on September 17, 2006

I have contacted White Castle regarding this very question. I cannot find my email from them.

Because, I just remembered, they mailed me via snail mail, a reply.

Something along the lines of:

We thank you for your interest and support of White Castle. Unfortunately, we are a family-owned and operated chain and prefer to grow only in existing markets. We are constantly re-evaluating our strategies, but we do not forsee a shift west any time in the near future.

We apologize for the inconvenience, and would like to provide you with two coupons for free White Castle Frozen Cheeseburgers, available at your local grocer.

Thanks for your letter.

So this is why, when I was in Michigan this past week, I ate there about five times.


(They would be HUGE in college towns.) The best store-boughts are from warehouses, because they sell them in pairs that are individually wrapped in plastic, which you microwave them in, and it steams them.
posted by disillusioned at 3:11 PM on September 17, 2006

No White Castle and no Chick-Fil-A in Seattle. No Sonic either, though they inexplicably advertise on TV all the time.
posted by Danelope at 3:22 PM on September 17, 2006

I remember as a pre-teen someone tried to open a chain called "West Castle" in LA. I'm not sure if it was licensed, but it was pretty obviously going for White Castle nostalgia.

My parents, who had fond midwestern memories of White Castle, dragged me there for the most disgusting food I've ever eaten.

My folks were disappointed but admitted that White Castle never was "high quality" and that their nostalgia tasted better than those burgers.

The store went out of business within a year. I can't remember exactly where, but it was two blocks from the Egyptian Theater and the big Scientology book store.

Perhaps that attempt scared them back to the midwest?
posted by Gucky at 3:53 PM on September 17, 2006

They used to deliver White Castles:

White Castle begins the "Hamburgers to Fly" program, which ships hamburgers via air express around the country to heartbroken Cravers who live far from a White Castle. We gave up flying long ago, but our delicious frozen burgers are now available at participating grocers across the country!

(from here.

Krystal's Burgers, creatively ordered can almost replicate the Slyder (apparently now trademarked!) taste.
posted by ktrey at 4:04 PM on September 17, 2006

In addition to the lack of White Castles, California is also missing Dunkin' Donuts (Krispy Kremes are pretty lame), Steak 'n' Shake (OMG BANANA SPLIT MILKSHAKE), and Caribou Coffee.

This is why my boyfriend and I drove from California to Minnesota and Iowa and back this summer, so as to get our fix of these awesome culinary institutions.
posted by sarahnade at 4:27 PM on September 17, 2006

The Northwest corner of the U.S. probably has fewer national chains than any other area of the country; a lot of companies don't want to set up distribution centers out there. As a result, the northwest has a lot of regional chains of the types that need distribution centers (e.g., pharmacies, fast food, etc.)
posted by spira at 4:40 PM on September 17, 2006

sarah - Dunkin, at least, plans to expand west.
posted by spira at 4:42 PM on September 17, 2006

Perhaps because people on the west coast have had a minor victory of taste? (Kidding, of course, though White Castles really make me question De gustibus non disputandum est.)

I've also never heard of someone craving Dunkin' Donuts. Even up east, while a reliable place for subpar coffee and stale bagels, I thought they were viewed as something like an invasive species, like kudzu or the Eastern Red Cedar in the midwest.
posted by ontic at 4:43 PM on September 17, 2006

I've been wanting to open up a White Castle in Cali because
I know it would be huge, but I guess it's impossible.. =/ Thanks guys for the answers!
posted by lain at 4:51 PM on September 17, 2006

Dunkin Donuts used to have a location in Sacramento, CA - but it was in south Sacramento neaqr the courthouse, and the massive multi year long mongo construction project on Power Inn road pretty much choked off their supply route and most of the customers. So, the location closed. It was a Togos/Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins location. It's the first time that i have seen such a location close down. The others seem to be doing great.

We're also losing A&W locations rapidly too. I'm sad about that. They seem to be opening more in the midwest. :|

The problem with California (especially here in the Bay Area) is that the cost of real estate is so bloody high! I've heard that as a huge reason why we don't have more food variety from East of the Rockies.
posted by drstein at 7:24 PM on September 17, 2006

There used to be a lot of Dunkin Donuts in the Seattle area. A family friend was night baker at the Federal Way store in the early 80s. When Krispy Kreme started opening in the area some of them changed their name to "Crispy Donuts" and promptly went out of business.
posted by lhauser at 7:24 PM on September 17, 2006

Dunkin' Donuts are (were?) in SoCal, but I preferred Winchell's. For quick burger joints I miss Carl's, Jr. I think the closest Carl's is in Oregon. *sob*
posted by deborah at 8:02 PM on September 17, 2006

All of these lame-o American burger joints are going to be destroyed by the slow-rolling, but mighty powerful, BurgerFuel. Just have to finish Australia, and then you'll all feel the furious anger of New Zealand's superior burger might!
posted by The Monkey at 8:10 PM on September 17, 2006

No Sonic either, though they inexplicably advertise on TV all the time.

I hate that too! West Michigan is eerily devoid of fast food, Detroit has White Castle, as do Chicago and Illinois, but there are none here... also Tim Hortons hasn't reached here yet...
posted by dagnyscott at 8:32 PM on September 17, 2006

Someone correct me if I'm wrong ... but among the major players, the only one I know that uses real hamburger patties made fresh daily (as opposed to frozen) -- is "Wendy's". True?
posted by RavinDave at 9:43 PM on September 17, 2006

deborah: We used to have more Winchell's locations in Northern California, but they're all down south now. I think that we have 2 locations in Northern CA now. One in South San Jose and another in Chico.
posted by drstein at 9:47 PM on September 17, 2006

Ah. The Monkey is correct. You haven't lived until you've tasted kumara chips, or a Ford Freakout. But watching the growth of Burger Fuel from the original Ponsonby location is so slow it's less like a biological process than a ticking clock...
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 9:50 PM on September 17, 2006

RavinDave - Wendy's now uses frozen patties.
posted by Melsky at 10:32 PM on September 17, 2006

Boy, reading this thread, I feel fortunate. Within 3 miles of me in any direction are:

1) Krispy Kreme (big orange Hot Now! sign works, too!)
2) Sonic (complete with rollerskating carhops)
3) What-A-Burger
4) Wendy's
5) McDonald's
6) Burger King
7) Taco Bell
8) Dunkin' Donuts
9) Krystal
10) Kentucky Fried Chicken/ A & W (root beer floats!)
11) Moe's (southwest grill chain)
12) Panera Bread (chain bakery)
13) CiCi's (all the pizza you can eat for $5)
14) Long John Silver's Fish
15) Sonny's Barbeque
16) Bruckner's Ice Cream (chain walkup ice cream)
17) Dairy Queen
18) Waffle House (24 hour greasy spoon)
19) IHOP (pancakes)
20) Church's Fried Chicken

plus, within 3 blocks, a great neighborhood bar, a brick oven pizza joint, 3 neighborhood Italian restaurants, 2 Chinese joints, Applebee's, and Longhorn Steakhouse. Back in the 3 mile radius area, there are 3 great local 24 hour NY diners with everything from egg creams to souvlaki and full breakfast around the clock, plus numerous other local fish places, national restaurant chains, and grills. And, I can buy shrimp and seafood fresh off the boats 10 minutes from my house.

I'd weigh 400 pounds if I checked in at all these joints regularly.

Move to Jacksonville, FL, fast food folks. The farthest west point on the East Coast, and hasn't taken a direct hit from a major hurricane in human memory.
posted by paulsc at 11:29 PM on September 17, 2006

When y'all figure out about White Castle (HUGE slider fan here), please figure out why there are no Carvel ice cream stores in the midwest and west. Tom Carvel is a genius.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:08 AM on September 18, 2006

Someone above mentioned Togos, the sandwich shop. I used to eat at the original Togos, before it became a chain.

It's on Monroe Ave in Corvallis, part of what's known as "Campus Row". Monroe Ave is the northern border of Oregon State University, and on the north side of it it's lined with shops and restaurants. Togos was a cheap sandwich place, and the best takeout food within easy walking distance of the OSU computer center -- so naturally it got a lot of business.

I've eaten at several instances of the chain, but none of them were the same. How can you have a Togos without offering cheese steaks?

Now that I'm back in Oregon, maybe someday I'll make a pilgramage back to the alma mater, and go worship cheap good food again with a meal at Togos.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 9:26 AM on September 18, 2006

Dunkin' Donuts are (were?) in SoCal, but I preferred Winchell's.

Me too, but I hear Dunkin' Donuts is on the verge of a major expansion.

Perhaps because people on the west coast have had a minor victory of taste?

I would have agreed with this (because the concept of a slider is to barf) until Krispy Kreme came to town, and the locals loved it.

among the major players, the only one I know that uses real hamburger patties made fresh daily (as opposed to frozen) -- is "Wendy's". True?

Melsky says false. And due to its west-coast-only footprint, I guess In-n-Out isn't considered major, but they brag about nothing they sell ever having being frozen (except the ice cream in their shakes).
posted by Rash at 9:30 AM on September 18, 2006

Johnny Gunn - There are Carvels in California , Nevada and Arizona. And a few around the midwest too.
posted by spira at 10:46 AM on September 18, 2006

You haven't actually had your question answered, so allow me:

There are no White Castles on the West Coast because it's the home of really great hamburgers. In-N-Out, Fatburger, Tommy's, etc. White Castle simply cannot compete with the greatness on display here.

Putting it another way: Keep your skanky, nasty-ass burger out of my state.

Seriously, you people like them? It's the #1 (and I mean #1) most disgusting burger I've had in my entire life. (#2 is the pantry in downtown LA, fyi.)
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 10:55 AM on September 18, 2006

Seattle's got Dick's!
posted by Pocahontas at 1:57 PM on September 19, 2006

Steven C. Den Beste: No, you didn't. The original Togo's is is San Jose, CA.

"The first Togo's was opened in downtown San Jose, California in the late 1960s by two guys named Tom and Gordon (hence the name Togo's)"


The original Togo's location is still in downtown San Jose.
posted by drstein at 8:52 PM on September 19, 2006

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