Baking & Snack - July 2021 - 17

OPERATIONS
White Castle
White Castle upgraded its Cincinnati bun bakery to better support its
restaurants and its surging frozen retail business for years to come.
by Dan Malovany
N
Nothing can stop the Crave. Not the Great
Depression, a World War or even the pandemic
have curbed the insatiable demand for
White Castle's Sliders since the family-owned
company began selling the steam-grilled burgers
with onions for 5 cents each in 1921.
If anything, the events over the past year
just fueled the Crave.
" Our sales have been so strong, " emphasized
Dave Rife, chief manufacturing officer for the
Columbus, Ohio-based chain. " I don't know of
any other brand that has the following we have. "
That was on full display in Orlando, Fla.,
this spring when hundreds of cars stormed the
castle - make that the world's largest White
Castle restaurant - and transformed the
nearby neighborhood into a parking lot during
the grand opening. People sat in their cars
or stood in line for up to six hours to get what
Time magazine once recognized as the " Most
Influential Burger of All Time. "
Keep in mind, there was only a 60-Slider limit.
" To me, that was amazing to watch, " recalled
Mr. Rife, a member of the fourth generation to
work in the family-owned business. " It was so
fun to be a part of and to see their faces as they
got closer to the drive-through window or the
front counter to get their food order, and then
watch them celebrate as they ran out with two
Crave cases [holding 30 burgers each], one in
each hand, which was a true testament to the
love of the brand. "
In typical fashion, Mr. Rife was there, just as
he was in 1980 when he began working behind
the counter at White Castle. His cousin, Lisa
Ingram, the current president and chief executive
officer, also provided support just 20 minutes
after she and her father, a former president,
finished the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
" She was back on the grill and pushing orders
and doing whatever anybody asked, " Mr.
Rife said. " I don't think you see that in a lot
of companies. "
Today, White Castle operates 362 restaurants in
14 states, mainly in the Midwest and New York,
but also in Las Vegas; Orlando, and Scottsdale,
Ariz. However, these units just satisfy part of the
Crave. As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
disrupted the restaurant industry, at-home households
turned to the grocery freezer case to stock
up on this American icon.
" The retail business, due to COVID, has
gone completely crazy, " Mr. Rife observed.
Currently, White Castle operates frozen retail
plants in Covington, Ky., and Louisville,
Ky., as well as in Vandalia, Ohio, which is
expanding this year to keep up with the demand
in all 50 states. Along with three meat
plants, White Castle operates two bakeries in
Cincinnati and Rensselaer, Ind., where it produces
its classic 2-by-2-inch buns for its restaurants
and retail manufacturing facilities.
" This gives us an advantage over everybody
else because we control the quality of those key
ingredients coming in the back door, and it's just
not the quality, " Mr. Rife said. " It's the cost and everything
else. It allows us to serve a hot, steamed
Slider that people love at an affordable price. "
While the Rensselaer bakery supplies buns
to restaurants, 80% of the Cincinnati bakery
volume feeds the burgeoning retail division.
Fortunately, White Castle has expanded, upgraded
and reengineered the bakery, which
now cranks out 8,000 dozen buns an hour, or
significantly higher than the 4,800 dozen an
hour produced a few years ago.
Investing in a vintage bakery
White Castle's vertical integration goes back to
the philosophy of Mr. Rife's great-grandfather,
www.bakingbusiness.com / July 2021 Baking & Snack 17
White Castle's
classic 2-by-2-inch
Slider buns are
baked in 48-count
clusters.
Donald Phelps Photography
http://www.bakingbusiness.com

Baking & Snack - July 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Baking & Snack - July 2021

Baking & Snack - July 2021 - Intro
Baking & Snack - July 2021 - 1
Baking & Snack - July 2021 - 2
Baking & Snack - July 2021 - 3
Baking & Snack - July 2021 - 4
Baking & Snack - July 2021 - 5
Baking & Snack - July 2021 - 6
Baking & Snack - July 2021 - 7
Baking & Snack - July 2021 - 8
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Baking & Snack - July 2021 - 11
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Baking & Snack - July 2021 - 17
Baking & Snack - July 2021 - 18
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https://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/bs/2015_12_01
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