It’s 1 p.m. on Tuesday, October 29 and the corner of Via Ventura and Pima Center Parkway in Scottsdale is flooded with cars. Some are scrambling to find a spot in the expansive parking lot while others join a serpentine line of other vehicles. A man in a neon green shirt is directing them. This is the location of Arizona’s first White Castle.
A week ago, when the wildly popular burger haven had its grand opening, people camped out for days and waited in eight-hour lines to place their orders. The crowds have died down a bit, but the line is still wrapped around the building and droves of cars are cued in the drive-through.
The family-owned restaurant started in Kansas in 1921 and now has 377 locations across the U.S. Before White Castle came to the Valley, Nevada was the only state west of Missouri to have one. The Scottsdale location is the largest in the country. White Castle Vice President Jamie Richardson says the response has been overwhelming.
“We knew that there would be some devoted and loyal friends. We didn’t expect it to keep going for 24 hours, let alone seven days,” he says. “We’re thrilled that so many people wanted to come by and say hello and enjoy some sandwiches. Our vision as a family-owned business is to have friends everywhere and this really feels like the most vivid demonstration of it we ever could’ve imagined.”
The 24/7 restaurant has had to close temporarily around 1 a.m. so the staff can clean and take a break.
“Typically at a 24-hour restaurant, there’s a little bit of a lull between, let’s say, 2 a.m. and 5 a.m.,” Richardson explains. “We just haven’t had a lull and we’re almost a full week into it.”
White Castle is known for its Original Slider, a two-inch burger made with a 100 percent beef patty, steam-grilled on a bed of onions and served on a bakery-fresh bun. “Cravers” – the name for White Castle devotees – can also get crispy chicken sliders, panko fish sliders, breakfast sliders, veggie sliders and a slew of sides that range from cheese fries to chicken rings. White Castle was also the first fast food chain to launch the Impossible Burger, a plant-based patty that looks and tastes like real meat. In addition to individual sliders, Castle Combos and shareable sides, patrons can pick up a “Crave Case,” which holds 30 sliders or a “Crave Crate,” which holds 100.
“I think the key thing for customers is the consistency and quality of the food and the taste,” Richardson says. “You can’t get anything like it anywhere else, that’s what makes it crave-able.”
Cravers have come from around the state to visit Arizona’s first White Castle, which was first announced last August. Richardson says part of their decision to expand to Arizona was due to a “Bring White Castle to Arizona” Facebook page.
“We tend to have all our restaurants in cities that we’ve been in for generations. In this sense, we thought, ‘Why not try someplace new?’” he says. “And if we’re going to go to someplace new, let’s go someplace where there are people who are really excited and eager to have us locate a restaurant there.”
Richardson says the feeling is mutual.
“We really love Arizona. It feels like a second home to us and people have been so kind and welcoming. It’s really been affirming to feel like, ‘Wow this is meant to be.’”
9310 E. Via de Ventura, Scottsdale