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Why isn't White Castle in L.A.?

I grew up in Chicago and a big treat as a kid was getting White Castle burgers. I love um!!!! It seems like a natural for L.A. but there aren't any here. Does anyone have scoop as to why not? (Yes, I have had plenty of In & Out burgers but I find them kind of plain and they just don't compare--or stack up--to sliders!)

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  1. I think it's a matter of regional preference, much like how you don't find Jack In The Box back east, or Steak-n-Shake anywhere but the Midwest. I remember many years ago there was a White Castle in Arizona, but it just didn't take root out here.

    2 Replies
      1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

        I live in the Midwest. And yes, there's a Steak n Shake down the street.

      2. There used to be a White Castle in Long Beach, just off the Traffic Circle. It's been years since I was in the area, tho, so I don't know if it's still there or not. That was the only one I knew about in the Southland, tho.

        1. I believe there is a White Castle out in Rancho Cucamonga (maybe stretching the geographical definition of "Los Angeles" a bit ...)

          1. I lived in LA for a little while and liked Fatburger, IN & Out, and Jack in the Box so much better than White Castle. I'm stuck in Cleveland for the time being and am jealous of my friends with In & Out and the ilk at their disposal. There's White Castle here but not much else.

            2 Replies
            1. re: chucktowneater

              hey cleveland, my ex from Ohio used to love roman burgers at mr hero http://www.mrhero.com/

              have you been ?

              1. re: soulimar

                Egads!!!! Mr. Hero lives!! I lived in Cleveland back in the late 70's / early 80's and loved Mr. Hero. I always had their regular cheeseburgers. Definitely a heart-attack on a sub bun. Maybe it's time for a trip back to Cleveland.

            2. why is there no popeye's in raleigh-durham (except the airport where people stock up) or chik-fil-a up north or whatever your fav fast food chain, instead of a mcDo's on every corner. (i got "mc do" from the fat french girl in supersize me., i love how she's fat AND french)
              anyhow, better marketing = more locaitons

              1. is there really a White Castle in California? According to their website there is not.

                1. Same reason there's no In -n- Out in NYC? It sucks, though.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: haleyjen

                    In-N-Out is totally Family owned, not franchised. Thats probably why they haven't expanded..yet..

                    Original owner died this year and granddaughter inherited...so it might become a franchise.

                    1. re: Cathy

                      Yes, In-N-Out is a private corporation, until recently directly managed by family, however, there has been a dispute for the past year or so between two camps, one represented by the granddaughter and one represented by hired management.

                      For all of the years that In-N-Out has been managed by the original family members the quality and product have remained unchanged. The service has also remained unchanged (one reason being the fact that they pay significantly more than mininum wage).

                      My prediction is that if the company grows, either by going public and or opening up franchises, the product and dining experience will suffer, then there will be no point in anyone in an area not previously served by In-N-Out to patronize just another fast food joint.

                      1. re: ChinoWayne

                        The main issue about In-N-Out expansion is distance from the central plant in Los Angeles. The burgers are made fresh in a central kitchen then shipped fresh to each restaurant. All restaurants have to be within driving distance of Southern California. Reno & Phoenix are the end of the line for In-N-Out expansion.

                        1. re: Sacto_Damkier

                          Regional "central plants" can undoubtedly be created to feed locations other than those here in the far west US...(should the company wish to do so).

                  2. I disagree that White Castle would be a natural for California. There's a wide variety of ethnic fast food (predominantly Mexican, but also consisting of Asian flavors like Thai and Chinese) that helps to supplement typical burger-and-fries fast food.

                    That's not to say that there would be a KrispyKreme-esque rush when a White Castle would first open, but like KK, the furor will die down.

                    Meanwhile, the line to In-N-Out at midnight still causes traffic on Ventura Blvd.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: SauceSupreme

                      I disagree with you, becausee New York City area has a bigger and wider variety of ethnic food and restaurants, and White Castle does well there. Besides In-N-Out is more like typical burger-and-fries fast food than White Castle. White Castle is way more different when it comes to burgers. I think it would do well in California, especially in Los Angeles area.

                      1. re: SauceSupreme

                        Disagree. Yes there is a lot of ethnic food here, yes, burgers are king in LA. People of all ethnicities love burgers here in LA. Burgers do great here but WC won't because they failed once here already and people do not care for them LA.

                        1. re: HoundDogz

                          When were there White Castle restaurants in Los Angeles?

                            1. re: HoundDogz

                              I wonder if it would work now? I seem to remember something about a temporary White Castle somewhere in LA that coincided with the Harold & Kumar movie.

                              1. re: John E.

                                John, it might work now because of the hype from the movies and because sliders are big now. Also people want variety which WC offers in the sense these might be sliders but they taste unique. You do have a good point it might work these days. By the way, I was driving down Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood and saw WC and was surprised. My wife is crazy for WC since she is from Chicago. We pulled over expecting a new WC restaurant but it was a facade and they were giving out WC burgers but thing is they were the frozen ones they simply microwaved. They are okay especially for free but too bad they were not made fresh but of course they could not do that in a fake building. It was just to promote the movie.

                                WC is okay but not so great in my opinion. I only tried them once when I went to Kentucky. That was 5 years ago. I am visiting KY again and gonna try again to see how I like them this time.

                                One more thing John, I was as surprised as you to hear there was a WC in California as well. I only found out over 20 years after it closed by my co-worker who told me he went about 1981 or so.

                                1. re: HoundDogz

                                  That timing is about right, I moved to LA in early 82 and I remember it being there. The reason it failed was parking, there was anywhere near enough at 2 AM when the bars closed.

                                2. re: John E.

                                  Not a chance, John E. There's too much competition in the 'fast food' burger market in LA, vs, not much other than Checkers and your run of the mill restaurants you'll find anywhere (McDonald's, Wendys, BK) in NYC. The midwest is the same , despite Culvers, Steak n shake and in St Louis there is Jack in the Box. Other than that, White Castle reigns suprem here in the midwest and in NYC. After all, it's Jack in the Box vs. White Castle for the stoner market: and the only exceptions to the two actually competing are in STL and now Indy.

                                  The idea is good. But I'm sure if white castle really was going to that they would have already expanded out there. Not once has the company even hinted at the idea of moving to CA. But as others have said, I'll settle with In n out, Jack in the Box, Carls Jr, and Fatburger is enough.

                        2. You can buy frozen sliders by the box at the supermarket. Maybe not quite the same experience, but they taste pretty much the way I remember them.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: Tony Miller

                            Actually, I think they taste BETTER than the real thing. I'll qualify it by saying that I had White Castle once in Nashville, and was surprised at the grease sponge that was called a bun and gristle that was called a patty. Fries were bad too...I think we ended up tossing 4 3 sliders and 3/4 an order of fries and eating somewhere else.

                            1. re: MeAndroo

                              Isn't there a pub someplace called...

                              The Sponge & Gristle


                              1. re: MeAndroo

                                I realize this is old but it apparently got resurrected so... I felt obligated to give a little advice. Do not eat at White Castle in Nashville. It's where crack heads work so they can buy more crack. The fact that it's in the end of a gas station and paired with Church's Chicken is a clue.
                                Around here Krystal is a much safer bet and I know one in particular that's managed by a very nice lady who runs a tight ship.

                                Looking north though it seems like they reverse roles with White Castle a safer bet, probably a different district or something.

                                1. re: On_yun

                                  yup anywhere in the south go for Krystal, up North go for WC.

                                  1. re: On_yun

                                    Dude. White Castle in EVERY city is where crackheads work. White Castle is quite possibly the most scummy places in existence. The two things I do go there for is the Chicken Ring slider with cheese, and their cheese fries. Yes, it's artery clogging, but I prefer that over their nasty sliders any day.

                                2. re: Tony Miller

                                  Just had the sliders from the box. Not quite the same, but better than you think.. It will definitely satisfy that craving if there is nothing else. They are hard to find in NY although it does exist in Queens. I used to live in Jersey City....practically across the street from the one on Kennedy Blvd. Not sure if that one is still there.

                                3. you cant find white castle west of the mississipi. it just doesn't exist! one of theperks of living on the east coast i guess!

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: NiKoLe1625

                                    Since your last post was more than five years ago, my response is for anyone else reading this revived thread.

                                    The first White Castle restaurant opened in Wichita, Kansas, about 500 miles west of the Mississippi River. There are probably a dozen White Castle restaurants west of the Mississippi in Minneapolis alone.

                                    1. re: John E.

                                      although they do peter out somewhere near KS these days, but they are very much entrenched West of the Mississippi (NiKoLe: that New Yorker map really isn't accurate or to scale ya know)

                                  2. where are the california locations for white castle? I have never seen one. someone post a street address and phone number. thanks

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: mrwilmoth

                                      there are no longer any locations in southern cal, it has been decades since they were here. i guess it just didn't catch on back in the 70's. but since sliders are now becoming more and more popular here, ie..more readily found on menus all over now, they may fare better if they tried again.

                                        1. re: textex

                                          not that i have heard or seen....??

                                    2. Well, It is just not a western Fast Food place.

                                      1. They tried in L.A. -- I vaguely remember one at Hollywood & Cahuenga, where Popeye's is now. It didn't last long. Evidently, Angelenos never took to moist, square, tiny hamburgers. And New Yorkers discovered that a "real" hamburger tastes like a Fatburger, Tommy's and, later, In-n-Outs, too.

                                        7 Replies
                                        1. re: Muskrat

                                          You're right about the Hollywood Blvd, what killed them there was parking, not comparison to "real" hamburgers. Sliders are not in the same food category as hamburgers. At 2 am whem the bars close you need someplace you can drive to and get a bag of bad food, if you can't park you don't stop. The 2 am crowd is a key demographic for White Castle.

                                          1. re: Scrapironchef

                                            The 2 AM crowd in LA is at Jack in the Box, loading up on "tacos".

                                            1. re: ricepad

                                              My point exactly, if there was a WC with a drive thru and/or reasonable parking they'd eat sliders just as readily. About the same meat content either way.

                                                  1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                    Who cares what they are made of really, I mean, most fast-food is pretty questionable. I eat White Castles because they are unique and taste good. Actually, the frozen ones in the grocery are good enough for me.
                                                    I would rather eat White Castles than In-and-Out anyday, although I grew up in Chicago.

                                          2. It's a midwestern restaurant that has spilled into the NYC market, probably because Harold and Kumar movies were set in NYC, and it wouldn't make sense not to have WC's there. Other than that, White Castle is to the midwest as Jack in the Box and In N Out is to the southwest. Frankly, I've had both Jack and White Castle, and Jack is much better (for fast food).

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: robert919

                                              White Castle has been in the NY area long before Harold and Kumar. But I agree it is a Midwest thing. They seem to thrive in urban working class areas that were well established before WWII (Cleveland, St. Louis, Chicago) which is why they are not in LA.

                                              My father ate them a lot in Chicago in the 1930s - 1950s. He also complained that they did not have them when we moved East in the 1960s.

                                              1. re: jcmods

                                                I love the Harold and Kumar movie, but it's laughable to think that's why NY/NJ loves White Castle. I mean the movie only came out a few years ago! White Castle has been around here since I was a kid (1970s? or earlier)

                                                1. re: coll

                                                  And while it did not ruin my enjoyment of the film, if I recall correctly Harold and Kumar were in Hoboken right? If so they did not have to drive all the way to Camden when there was one about two miles away in Jersey City. I know because I used to live a block away. (You could smell it a block away).

                                                  1. re: jcmods

                                                    I don't remember the towns, but I know the one near them had become a different burger place so they drove 45 minutes to get to the nearest White Castle. After the drive in window guy told them to! Little did they know they would run into Neil Patrick Harris: But hey, that's Hollywood.

                                                    Our nearest White Castle is about a half hour away, but luckily we have a few stops we make over there periodically. My husband loves those suckers. Me, I'm hoping for those avo/veggie burgers to migrate our way before next time.

                                                    1. re: coll

                                                      We might not have White Castle but we have Great White Hut -


                                                      1. re: HoundDogz

                                                        I could go for a good breakfast burrito right about now!

                                            2. why? bc there's an In-N-Out. That's why.

                                              1. There was White Castle in LA some years ago but it did not fly. Overall So Cal people just don't care for it enough to last so they shut it down and went packing back where they came from. I have been to WC in Louisville, KY and I found it to be just so-so. When I go back to visit I will go again to WC just for the hype about it since we don't have it in LA but honestly they are just so-so. I know there was a WC in the Valley because a guy I once worked with said when he had gone he got his burger and couldn't stop laughing because it was so small and didn't realize it when he ordered it until he got it. He was even laughing when he told the story. Once again these just don't fly in CA.

                                                1. White Castle finally's first restaurant in the west coast located in Las Vegas, NV opening in November 2014 at Las Vegas Strip

                                                  18 Replies
                                                  1. re: Michaeldgaff

                                                    WC should do well in LV. With all the tourist and residents and all the legend behind the WC people will flock to it.

                                                    1. re: Michaeldgaff

                                                      Note that it's on the strip, for the tourists.

                                                      1. re: rasputina

                                                        There's no way in Hell that I'm going to White Castle in Las Vegas. There are probably four or five WC restaurants within a dozen miles from our house.

                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                          Of course, why would you? Goes without saying. It is obviously for tourist who are in LV already and want WC. No one is gonna travel here just for WC.

                                                          1. re: HoundDogz

                                                            yet some would, even those with it at home. it's paste but it's a known paste. truth be told I love/hate them - when living in CA I would break down every few years and get a box of frozen at Cala or Safeway. or I'd wait for a visit home and that was stop #1 after picking up the rental car and before family.

                                                            1. re: HoundDogz

                                                              My point really is that when I travel, I never eat at a chain restaurant. (I never intended to say that people would travel to Las Vegas to specifically eat at White Castle.) Heck, I always attempt to avoid them, White Castles being one of the exceptions.

                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                Well if I liked WC but had none near me I would eat at one when I travel. I do see your point though. I don't really like WC either so next time I travel and there is a WC I will pass on it.

                                                                1. re: HoundDogz

                                                                  I guess we are misunderstanding each other. I'm a big fan of White Castle, but only eat there maybe four or five times a year. They are available locally, so I would never eat them while travelling.

                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                    I understand. True would not make sense to eat WC when traveling if you get it locally. I like In And Out Burger and have it locally and like you only eat it four or five times a year too so why eat it if I am traveling if I have it locally.

                                                                    1. re: HoundDogz

                                                                      I've eaten at In and Out three times and each time the fries were flabby. They cut them fresh, but do they double fry?

                                                                2. re: John E.

                                                                  Well, Vegas isn't exactly a city known for it's exquisite dining. So, I guess it really doesn't matter in there. But yeah, if you're going to spend your meals eating at a friggin White Castle while you're in a city like Chicago or New York, that's wrong IMO. This really doesn't taste good. It's stoner food, good for people drunk off their asses or high as sh*t. But it's not something you should dedicate a whole meal while in a giant city to (with, as I said, Vegas as an exception).

                                                                  1. re: Roger1992

                                                                    You might want to look into the Vegas dining scene a little more. Vegas is known for top end dining in the last decade or so.

                                                                    1. re: Jase

                                                                      oh yeah LV may have operations by a Keller and Serrano among many other notables, but it's going to be Thanksgiving before they get a White Palace...

                                                                      1. re: Jase

                                                                        I actually am, and I know how that there are some top notch dining for the one percent "spending a weekend in Vegas", but for your average joe, fast food, particularly fast food that is intended for late night consumption, is probably going to be your route for dining. What I meant by there's no "exquisite dining" is that there's no type of food "special" to Vegas, like Chicago hot dogs, New York style pizza, or AS BIG a Mexican restaurant culture as LA.

                                                                        1. re: Roger1992

                                                                          Well, no in that definition you're right. Vegas is a transplant city. But there's plenty of late night dining for regular joes that can satisfy. I've been going to Vegas for years at least 4-5 times a year. I eat low end dining most of the time. There's plenty of good pho places open late. Some solid Korean open till 4 a.m. Random mexican places. There's In an Out if you're into that.Grimaldi's has opened up a couple of locations.

                                                                          While Vegas may not have one iconic food, there's plenty of choices beyond a chain hamburger place.

                                                                          1. re: Jase

                                                                            Very true. My dad used to live there and I would visit him about 4 times a year. I loved seeing my dad but I really dislike Vegas. Now that he's not there anymore I don't have to go there anymore. With that said, Las Vegas is a city like any other once you get past the gambler's and tourist traps of the Strip. Get away from that you have dining like any other place. I do want to go to Grimaldi's but they opened one up in El Segundo I believe, which is about 25 minutes from me without traffic on the freeway. I gotta go there.