Harold and Kumar don’t have to go to White Castle anymore — White Castle will come to them. The iconic Midwestern burger chain is expanding its delivery service to 45 additional locations ahead of its centennial anniversary in 2021.
Delivery services will operate in markets where White Castle and Grubhub overlap, including White Castle restaurants in Tennessee, Kentucky, Las Vegas and more, according to QSR Magazine. That’s on top of the 75 White Castle locations that already offer delivery through Grubhub in New York City, Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit and other cities.
White Castle plans to launch the new initiative with a contest for football fans. Customers can enter to win a catered meal from the White Castle Crave Mobile during the NFL championship on Feb. 4.
Grubhub COO Stan Chia told QSR Magazine that order numbers are on the rise for sliders, a category that White Castle Founder Walter Anderson basically invented, and which Time Magazine honored as a cultural icon in 2014 when the Original Slider from White Castle was named the most influential burger of all time.
White Castle may have been the first to serve sliders, the first to slap a bun on a hamburger patty, the first to standardize fast food production and arguably the first fast food restaurant to open its doors in the U.S., but it’s far from the first to bring greasy goodness straight to customers’ doors.
Indeed, compared to industry giants, it’s a little late to the game. Last year, McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Wendy’s all funneled resources into fast-food delivery trials and continue to invest in the strategy of bringing the drive-through to mobile devices.
McDonald’s delivery is now widely available across the U.S. via a partnership with UberEats.
Meanwhile, Taco Bell offers DoorDash delivery from more than 1,000 restaurants in 50 markets. It also teamed up with Lyft to beta-test a “Taco Mode” concept in California, which allows late-night riders to reroute to the nearest Taco Bell for a snack on the way home. Apparently, the trial was successful enough to warrant national expansion in 2018.
Wendy’s was the most recent to jump on the bandwagon, joining forces with DoorDash in December to deliver to 50 markets across the U.S.
However, White Castle is actually at the forefront of the quick service restaurant (QSR) delivery trend when one considers that the franchise is still privately owned and only has 450 stores — that’s compared to more than 14,000 McDonald’s locations, 5,604 Taco Bells and 6,500 Wendy’s locations.
For a brand with less cultural significance, that could be a source of anxiety, but with its nationwide cult following, White Castle is likely to weather the transition just fine.
The proof is in the patty: In 2015, White Castle expanded to a new state for the first time in half a century. The new location in the Casino Royale Hotel & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip served more than 4,000 sliders an hour during its first day open.
If that’s any indicator of demand, then the chain has nothing to worry about with its new delivery partnership — indeed, Grubhub may have to put the pedal to the metal just to keep up.