In 1987, White Castle launched its retail division, becoming the first fast-food restaurant to offer its food in grocery stores for preparation at home. Some industry experts scoffed at the idea, saying a fast-food restaurant couldn't succeed as a consumer packaged-goods company. But White Castle proved them wrong. Its retail division has grown steadily over the years, becoming an integral part of the family-owned business' success and giving the brand a national presence.
White Castle's retail division, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, features a diverse lineup of menu items.
"When my dad, Bill Ingram, was president and CEO, he wanted to make sure everyone had access to White Castle Sliders, including people who didn't live in a White Castle market," said Lisa Ingram, White Castle's current president and CEO. "That's how he came up with the idea of selling our Sliders in grocery and convenience stores. It was a strategic decision that has made a significant difference for White Castle."
The division sold its 6 billionth retail Slider at the end of 2021 and achieved record sales last year. In fact, 20% of its total sales since 1987 have come in the past three years alone, and the division is poised for continued growth.
To keep up with the increasing demand for its frozen Sliders, White Castle is expanding the manufacturing capacity at its plant in Vandalia, Ohio, near Dayton. The company has invested $27 million in the project, which will be finished this summer. The expansion doubles the size of the plant from approximately 75,000 square feet to 150,000 square feet.
During the groundbreaking ceremony last summer, White Castle officials named the plant "The House That Bill Built" in honor of Bill Ingram, the third-generation family member who was responsible for creating and expanding the retail division during his tenure as president and CEO. Today, The House That Bill Built, along with other dedicated manufacturing facilities in Covington and Louisville, Kentucky, supply packaged Sliders to retailers in all 50 states.
About White Castle
White Castle, America's first fast-food hamburger chain, has been making hot and tasty Sliders as a family-owned business for 101 years. Based in Columbus, Ohio, White Castle started serving The Original Slider in 1921. Today White Castle owns and operates more than 350 restaurants dedicated to satisfying customers' cravings morning, noon and night and sells its famous fare in retail stores nationwide. The Original Slider, named in 2014 as Time magazine's "Most Influential Burger of All Time," is served alongside a menu of creatively crafted Sliders and other mouthwatering food options, including White Castle's Impossible Slider, named by Thrillist in 2019 as the "Best Plant-Based Fast Food Burger." White Castle's commitment to maintaining the highest quality products extends to the company owning and operating its own meat processing plants, bakeries and frozen-food processing plants. In 2021, 100 years after the first Slider was sold, Fast Company named the fast-food pioneer one of the "10 Most Innovative Dining Companies." White Castle is known for the legendary loyalty of its team members, more than 1 in 4 of whom have worked for White Castle for at least 10 years, and also for its faithful fans ("Cravers"), many of whom compete each year for entry into the Cravers Hall of Fame.