White Castle celebrates 20 years of Valentine's Day dinners in the Twin Cities

Love is in the air. And the distinctive smell of White Castle sliders.
Love is in the air. And the distinctive smell of White Castle sliders.
courtesy White Castle

Lonely hearts without dinner plans tonight might be tempted to eat their feelings with a White Castle Crave Case.

But if they show up at Castle doors between 5 and 8 p.m., they'll get turned away. This year marks the 20th anniversary of area Castles serving dinner for lovebirds, which means shutting down counters and converting their front rooms into restaurants, complete with menus and cheesecake-on-a-stick for dessert.

"Everyone comes," says Leisa Karl, White Castle's area training coordinator. "We have couples who met at White Castle. This year we have a 20th wedding anniversary and a 51st anniversary. We have families; we have new joiners to the Crave family; we have people who have been coming for 20 years."

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Nineteen of the 20 Castles in the metro area go through the temporary conversion (the one in Hinckley sits out; it lacks a front room). All but one, the new location in St. Cloud, are already booked solid.

White Castle's regional office began taking reservations on January 1, and the White Bear Avenue location was the first to fill up. By January 21, diners had taken all 56 time slots there. The second Castle to get fully booked was in nearby Inver Grove Heights, which had all of its reservations snapped up by the following day.

Tonight, the normal Castle crews will come out from behind the counter, dress up, and hand diners printed versions of the normal menu (including a coupon on the back).

The dining room will be made over with tablecloths, candles, and candy scattered on tables, and a photographer will roam around taking pictures of couples eating or against a backdrop, which they will later be able to access online and print off at home. At the end of the meal, guests can choose between two free desserts: cheesecake- or brownie-on-a-stick.

If you want to try your luck in St. Cloud or with cancellations (or lurking outside the windows, inhaling burger fumes and staring down the happy couples? It's your Valentine's Day), here's a map of White Castles in the area.

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