The urban landscape has changed drastically since White Castle entered the American scene in a small cement block building in Wichita, Kansas, in 1921. But the White Castle product and its commitment to both customers and employees have remained the same.
Customer loyalty is something the Columbus, Ohio-based company takes very seriously. To help celebrate the anniversary, White Castle is introducing a "Cravers Hall of Fame" as a way of showing how important customers are. The fact that close to 1200 entrants were willing to share their special stories illustrates the importance White Castle plays in the lives of its many devoted followers. Ten finalists will be inducted in a ceremony on May 17.
White Castle plans on featuring other events to celebrate the 80th anniversary with customers during May, National Hamburger Month. These include many special deals and even white tablecloth dinners at some locations. This year also represents the 10th anniversary of the Crave Time Cook-off, which gives customers the opportunity to share their favorite recipes using White Castle hamburgers.
These anniversary initiatives are in addition to the many community events and programs that the company contributes to every year. White Castle has been active in its surrounding communities throughout its history in order to connect with the people that support them. Donations to charities, schools, and community and recreational groups are an important facet of White Castle's philosophy of giving back.
White Castle has enjoyed legendary allegiance among its employees as well, radiating from founder Billy Ingram's philosophy that "We have no right to expect loyalty except from those to whom we are loyal.'' Every September since 1946, the company has celebrated the employees who have 25 years of service. It is common to hear these team members talk of having started with White Castle as just a part-time or summer job. For many, the part-time job becomes a career, and they stay for a lifetime. To date, 862 people have become members of the 25-Year Club with close to 300 still actively working in the company. Medical benefits, year-end bonuses, pensions and profit sharing have all been part of White Castle for decades.
White Castle continues to engender loyalty from both customers and employees by sticking to the pillars set down by the founders of "serving the finest products, for the least cost, in the cleanest surroundings, with the most courteous personnel,'' while evolving them to fit with the changes of the new millennium. The opinions of employees and customers are sought regularly as White Castle strives to go in new directions and continue its legacy of innovation.
In the words of Billy Ingram, "I believe we can attribute our success to two things: the constant desire to improve in all activities and the belief that happy people are the most profitable asset a company can have.''