Yesterday afternoon I went to my local White Castle (you know you are no longer "young" when you go to While Castle and its not even night time yet), and was shocked to find out starting today (technically tomorrow morning at 1 A.M.), they will actually close at night except on Saturdays when they will remain their traditional 24/7. Guess they will finally put the locks on the door to good use outside of Christmas Day.
Having been born and south side, White Castle was always open and as I became a teenager and a young man, that was the after the late movie, house party, hanging out spot. My wife tells me young people don't hang out in White Castle anymore (and from the looks from our local restaurant in New Lenox), they avoid it like it was geometry on Saturday.
I'm just stunned to see how the fast food world has changed, man 15-20 years ago if you went any of the south suburban White Castles (Blue Island, Midlothian, Tinley Park & Chicago Heights), you would have found me, my friends and a restaurant full of young people after 11 P.M. and going into the wee hours. You'd often even see a young family creep in (usually through the drive through), with kids sleep in a van, to get that late night craving.
But I guess the world has changed, for one White Castle is someone inconsistent with their food but more so, we all know its not good for you and then I noticed yesterday, its expensive. One hamburger (affectionally known as a "Slider"), is 68 cents. WTF? I remember in the mid to late 90's it was around 39 Cents and you could get 5-6 sliders, fries and a pop for about $ 5.00. Yesterday an older woman ordered behind me and just wanted 8 sliders and it was $ 5.00 plus tax, she was surprised as I was.
In case you don't know I'm a home chef and create a lot of dishes at home and I make a slider, its not really close to White Castle but its cheap and people at parties love them, plus it doesn't give you the often indigestion you get from the onion bed bred slider.
But if you have gone grocery shopping in the last year you will notice the price of all food has skyrocketed, especially beef & pork. I guess White Castles are no exception. See I don't get fast food a lot and never go out for lunch, I make my own food and love leftovers, so seeing the inflated prices at various fast food and chain restaurants (whether "fast casual" or traditional sit down), is shocking to me, no to mention the quality (or lack there of), of the food that is served. I know I have an ego regarding my cooking but most people can prepare better (and healthier), food at home and save a few bucks.
With that said, I guess that might be what's leading the reduction of hours at White Castle. I don't know if their competitors (Wendy's Taco Bell, etc), that have their drive through open until 2 or 3 in the morning are cutting back. I do know most McDonald's locations have 24 hour drive through hours and you always see cars in the drive through. Is this a sign of their dominance in the fast food world? Personally I know how convenient they are but you can keep the food and I'll chew on the bag.
In case you didn't know I don't care for most chain restaurants, I recently found out I have high blood pressure but I also have low pockets and don't want to spend a lot of money in case I don't have to.
So maybe White Castle is feeling the effects of those of us, that used to frequent their locations but for both our physical & financial health have stayed away.
In any case, the result it what we crave is not their 68 cents sliders around the clock.