(Earlier this week we arranged for our friend Chris Gayner to have a romantic evening at White Castle with a lady friend. White Castle, as you may know, offers reserved seating for Valentine’s Day to make your romantic day just a little more awesome. This is his story.)
Eating at White Castle on Valentine’s Day is like going to Hooters on Easter Sunday, but less spiritual. It’s the exact opposite of going to McDonald’s for your birthday when you were seven years old. Even people that can only afford to eat at White Castle wouldn’t eat there on V-Day. When I called to make reservation, I was put on hold so they could all laugh at me. The whole thing seemed ridiculous, or at least a great marketing campaign that I bought into.
If it’s dark enough your date may think it’s a medieval ball. If she’s suffered head trauma
White Castle has been doing this for over twenty years in the Midwest, but only recently expanded to over three hundred locations, including Brooklyn. Which means hipsters did this for the irony. I chose not to wear my flannel, and luckily shaved for a job interview that day, or I would have been a cliché, and not just sad. Bon Iver did not play over the sound system, and there was nothing farm to table being served, but I imagine some foodie hipster wrote a yelp review, and checked in on foursquare; ‘The service was bad, and the meal pedestrian. There wasn’t even a prix fixe menu offered. Zero stars.’
This isn’t where Romance goes to die. It’s where Romance was given Hep C.
This was a tough year for me. I’ve lost money, gained weight, I don’t have a job, and my girlfriend dumped me at least five times, but we are still together for now. She is my last hope of having any kind of life. Making a reservation at White Castle on Valentine’s Day, when it’s the two-year anniversary of the day we met, and not planning anything last year, guarantees I will die alone. This should read as a suicide note, and yes my girlfriend likes to celebrate half anniversaries also, but I wanted to embrace celebrating our union at the cheapest place I could find, and just try to have fun with it.
When I arrived I was greeted by name and told to sit at any table, my reservation was early, so I could still try and make it up to my girlfriend later that night. Everything was organized and decorated very nicely. It made me forget I was at a White Castle. I was at the Love Castle. The staff and management were excited for me to be there. I think they might have even paid for some of the decorations out of pocket. Like a teacher having to buy supplies for all their special needs students. They do it because they love what they do. There were red, pink, and white balloons, red and pink tablecloths, paper decorations, Valentine’s menus printed out, napkins, and even candles. I noticed the menu even featured a Valentine’s special that could feed 2-3 and another that serves 3-4 demonstrating that White Castle is either very progressive in their thinking, or just very aware of their customer base. These were followed by the seductive “sack meals.” What girl wouldn’t want to celebrate an anniversary while listening to drive thru orders, and the smell of sliders in the air? My girlfriend.
They should have just labelled everything either “sex” or “sex with cheese.”
I was stood up on Valentine’s Day at a White Castle. This was the saddest day of my life. The place was empty, and I was alone. I ordered two sliders; one jalapeno, one cheese, chili cheese fries, and a chocolate shake to fill the void. Brian McKnight’s ‘Back to One’ was playing in the background. I thought about going in the bathroom and taking my own life, but who would eat the food I just ordered? How did I get here, every bad choice I’ve made in life had all come to this moment. The waitress asked if I would be interested in buying a White Castle candle or a teddy bear. I almost started to cry, but held it together.
I called a friend who lived close, and he was there by the time the food came. Of course, he is vegan, (Brooklyn) and White Castle is not gentrified. Now we just looked like two dudes celebrating Valentine’s together. People get married at White Castle, but I’m not sure how many same sex couples do, or eat there for V-Day. He ordered some fries, and onion rings. I asked for the check, and we both got a free dessert, fudge dipped cheesecake on a stick.
No thanks, this evening is sweet enough already.
My girlfriend really missed out. Not a bad deal, maybe next year White Castle will hire a band, and allow slow dancing in some locations. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to be single for the rest of their lives, it only cost $13.08.
Sadness is free