What Is Required to Buy a White Castle Franchise?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Apr 17, 2020 10:49:36 AM ET
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@WhiteCastle/Twitter

White Castle restaurants have operated in the United States for almost 100 years. That’s amazing enough, but the biggest shocker is that the more than 375 fast food restaurants are still completely under the company's control. That feat is practically unheard of for a restaurant chain of this size. That means the short answer to the question of franchise requirements is simple. Franchise ownership isn’t currently possible for White Castle restaurants, and the company has no plan to offer franchising for the brand in the future.  

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Many investors and food fans alike have wondered why the company hasn’t already offered franchise opportunities. The primary reason provided by the company is that White Castle remains committed to focusing on being the best that it can be instead of worrying about extensive widespread growth. White Castle representatives frequently talk about growing market share, sales and profitability in existing stores, rather than relying on franchise opportunities to grow its numbers.  

The closest the chain has ever gotten to a deal that resembles a franchise agreement is a limited licensing deal with operators in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Shanghai, China. The company maintains that by keeping operations within the company, it can open locations near its food partners, keep its menu similar in all locations and maintain a steady flow of customers and profits.

The White Castle Experience

People love the little square sliders at White Castle so much that the company created an entire theme based on how much customers crave the little burgers. That’s right — “crave” is officially the byword for the brand, and the company loves to make entrepreneurs crave franchise opportunities just as much as customers crave the burgers.

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Photo Courtesy: @WhiteCastle/Twitter

History of the Slider

In 1921, White Castle opened its first hamburger operation in Wichita, Kansas. Founder Billy Ingram and his partner and cook, Walt Anderson, teamed up to offer small, bite-sized slider burgers at 5 cents a pop. The pair achieved success in the following years, and Anderson ultimately decided to take his share of the profits and leave the business in 1933. Ingram kept the chain going under his family's control until his death in 1966, when his sons took over the chain.

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Photo Courtesy: Mashed.com


White Castle Locations

People on the East Coast and in the Midwest have raved about White Castle restaurants and White Castle hamburgers for years. Today, the family-owned business has expanded its restaurant locations to include cities and towns in the Western U.S. and the South. The company recently launched new restaurants in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Las Vegas. 

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Photo Courtesy: @WhiteCastle/Twitter

These days, White Castle has more than 375 locations spread across 13 states. That's obviously a tiny fraction of McDonald's 37,000-plus locations around the globe and Burger King's 13,000 worldwide locations. The company has plans to open a new location in Orlando, Florida, in 2021, expanding the chain to 14 states.

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White Castle Operations

White Castle restaurant chain’s corporate office is located in Columbus, Ohio. In 2019, the company moved into new offices there in what is only its second headquarters since moving to the city in 1934.

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Photo Courtesy: @WhiteCastle/Twitter

Founder Billy Ingram's great-granddaughter, Lisa Ingram, currently runs the company as President and CEO. She oversees all aspects of White Castle's restaurant operations, grocery facilities and manufacturing locations. She is also a member of the company's board of directors. 

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White Castle is fairly selective about how it grows the business and chooses its locations based on significant demographic data. The most recent restaurant openings were based on an understanding of top tourist locations in the U.S.


White Castle Products

In addition to its restaurant operations, White Castle also packages its burgers for sale in supermarkets throughout the country. Depending on where you live, the frozen sliders could be available in a variety of package sizes in your grocery store's freezer section. Can’t find them in your store yet? The company recently expanded its retail sales through new retail distribution partnerships.

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Photo Courtesy: @WhiteCastle/Twitter

Sliders Forever?

Critics of White Castle suggest that its hamburgers aren’t a good part of a sensible diet. However, each burger only has 140 calories each and contains about the same amount of protein as one egg. Eaten in moderation, White Castle burgers don't disrupt your healthy lifestyle and diet.

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Photo Courtesy: @WhiteCastle/Twitter