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May 14, 2011 01:31 PM

Will White Castle Ever Open and Succeed in Los Angeles or the West Coast???

Well I should say re-open because they had a WC out in the Valley somewhere back in the '80s and it failed. I don't think that Los Angeles people really like WC. WC just does not fly here. A guy I used to work with said he went to WC, I think out in the Valley in the early '80s and ordered one burger, not knowing they are miniature. When he got it he said he could not stop laughing, nor could his friends. Even when telling the story he was laughing because he thought they are ridiculously small. In all fairness to WC the price is small too so one could buy many of these for a reasonable price to make up for the small size of the burgers. But back then there was no WC Harold and Kumar movie, no WC in the frozen section, no hype about WC so of course my co-worker didn't know that the burgers were gonna be small. Just he and his friends saw the place and went in for "a" burger and was surprised. My co-worker grew up and still lives in Compton. They I don't think ever had a WC there but he had just happen to be in the Valley when he ran into WC.

I was in Kentucky a couple of years ago in Louisville and Lexington. While in Louisville I finally go to try the famous WC burger. Knowing they are small I ordered two of them, a chicken fillet sandwich which the chicken is friend, and a pulled pork sandwich and fries. Fries are normal size. The chicken and the pulled pork as you may imagine was very small just like the burgers. I was not thrilled with the burgers. Not the size, just I have had way better burgers elsewhere. I was impressed by the pulled pork and the chicken sandwich. I only went to WC twice during my week long stay there. I think if I go to KY or another WC state I'll go back and get some more pulled pork and chicken sandwiches. I might try another burger but I don't think they were so good.

I just don't think WC can fly out west then again with the Harold and Kumar movie and many people from other states that WC moving here maybe WC can do better now than it did back in the early '80s. I did e-mail WC and ask if they were gonna ever open out west again and they said no.

By the way I made some WC type of burgers and they turned out tasting like WC. Why did I make them if I don't care for them? 1) My wife is from Chicago so she loves them and 2) I like trying to mimic or copy famous restaurant or fast food specialties just to see if I could do it and I did come pretty close. So if my wife wants WC I can make something close. Hey I also make some garlic noodles very close to the kind at Crustaceans in Beverley Hills.

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  1. I tried WC in Hammond, Indiana about two years ago. They were fun and my wife is also from Chicago but lived in Hammond. Back when she was a child they were 5 cents apiece. I think they still should be priced there. No I don't think they will ever make it on the West Coast.

    1. The original comment has been removed
      1. In the early to mid 80s, there was a White Castle in Long Beach, CA, at the Traffic Circle. By about 1987, it was gone.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ricepad

          Didn't know they had one there too. So once in the Valley and one in Long Beach. Just proves that WC can't fly here in So Cal. Then again today with everyone wanting to try different things and with all the hype from the Harold and Kumar movie with the WC's in the frozen section, and all the tourist and people who moved here from back east maybe it could have a chance, a small chance.

        2. WC has meaning for them as grew up with it, just as Krystal does (same shtick, different logo). My one real WC Experience was in Louisville at around 4 am (or so I was told), after a night hanging out with the band my brother was playing in (five sets in two venues, the last three impromptu). I do remember the eye-shredding whiteness of the place, and the strangely seductive oniony savor of the four or five itty bitty burgers I devoured …

          There just isn't room here for them, just as there wasn't really room for Krispy Kreme donuts. There is an existing burger culture that is not only not welcoming to interlopers, but profoundly hostile to heterodox, even heretical, interpretations of Burgerness. I get enough grief for ordering my patty melts on sourdough (THAT is NOT a PATTYMELT!!) - how many tiny steamed onionburgers do you think I could sell in a month in LA? Probably not enough to pay the dishwasher, much less my rent …

          13 Replies
          1. re: Will Owen

            There are some Krispy Kremes here though. One in Puente Hills and one in Burbank as far as I know unless they had closed down. But I agree there isn't enough from for WC. I too went to WC in Louisville, KY. One in downtown and one in the outskirts by the Waverly Sanitarium.

            What I did like in KY was Steaks and Shakes. I thought it was pretty good. Wish they had one here.

            Talking about food joints coming back, it seems as if Bob's Big Boy is coming back. Yeah there were a few left they did not go all away but seems that they are trying to make a comeback now and opening more. The Burbank one was always there but there are more now again. None in the mall like they used to but some being opened like in West Covina and Pasadena.

            1. re: HoundDogz

              In many ways, Bob's Big Boy never left, HoundDogz. He's always offered the same high quality meals at competitive prices

              1. re: Fibber McGee

                True but not as many locations as now. I mean in their prime they were all over the place, even at malls. They also had two near me as well. Then they seemed shut down many of their stores and they were far and few between. If I wanted Bob's I'd have to go to Burbank. There is one in Downey I think that looks old that I just saw a few months ago so that one probably was always there. But for the most part they were scaling down or downsizing. Now they are opening up new locations like Pasadena and West Covina. So I agree with you that they didn't really go away just they did downsize some.

                1. re: HoundDogz

                  I think that's going on with all of the Big Boy family, really. I live in the midwest, where we have Frisch's in Ohio and what used to be Elias Brothers in Michigan. Both have revamped locations, mover from one place to another or just closed stores.

                  1. re: Fibber McGee

                    A couple of years ago I was in Louisville, KY and saw that Frisch's place. I was shocked that it had a Bob Big Boy in front of it it. I was surprised because out in LA all but maybe a couple had closed down and to see a Bob Big Boy in front of a restaurant in KY was surprising. Now that Bob's is opening up more in CA again it is not as surprising but back then it was. I suppose this Frisch is part owner in the Big Boy chain and has some back east?

                    1. re: HoundDogz

                      Well, Frisch's has been in the restauarant business almost as long as Bob's, per their site. They picked up Big Boy in 1946. From what I've deduced through my reading, once Bob started franchising nationally, he turned it over to the franchisees. Thus, Frisch's (Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana), Elias Brothers (Michigan), etc. I know it was Eby's in Pennsylvania. I think that's how Shoney's got their start. Comebacks are good, to me.
                      As for White Castle, I can see how they might be missed if you haven't had them in a while. When you know they're around, they're not bad. On occassion. L.A. and California are not missing out.

                2. re: HoundDogz

                  Is selling salad dressing in grocery stores part of that comeback? Maybe I just wasn't paying attention before, but I now see salad dressings for sale with Bob's picture on them.

                  1. re: aynrandgirl

                    Being a relative of Ayn Rand I became interested in your choice of names. Was it a whim or are we long lost relatives?

                3. re: Will Owen

                  I could see a couple of WC locations thriving out in LA but it would have to be in very specific high foot traffic areas that go late into the evening. Possibly somewhere near hollywood and highland.

                  Or in a standalone that has easy car access in high traffic volume. But hard to see them thriving to the point of having numerous locations.

                  1. re: Jase

                    True, if they do open here it has to be specific locations. Maybe even on campuses or near. Maybe on the USC campus because the college kids would go for it. Then maybe in Westwood near UCLA, especially near the movie theatre.