White Castle celebrates 100th birthday at stores across Chicago

White Castle celebrated its 100th birthday on Wednesday and stores around the Chicago area joined in on the burger bash.

Birthday balloons went up at the White Castle at Addison and Elston, while customers reminisced.

"How many can you put away?" FOX 32’s Dane Placko asked customer Brian Natkin, who responded, "I put 18 away one time!"

It’s a celebration of the little burger with a big place in Chicago history.

One hundred years ago Wednesday, the first White Castle opened in Wichita, Kansas, where they sold sliders for a nickel a piece. Then, moved to Chicago in 1928. 

Now, there are 360 White Castles across the country, including 72 here in the Chicago area.

"Chicago is the epicenter of craving for the Castle. It’s our biggest market. It’s where we have our biggest fans. We have more members of the White Castle Cravers Hall of Fame from Chicago than any other city," said Jamie Richardson, VP of White Castle.

One of the original White Castles has even been designated as a Chicago landmark. A glazed brick castle at Cermak and Wabash opened in 1930 and now houses a chicken restaurant with a new White Castle across the street.

The birthday party is special for the crew here on the northwest side, as many of them have worked at White Castle for decades.


Yaide Ortiz has been slinging sliders for 22 years. 

FOX 32’s Dane Placko: You work so fast!
Ortiz: Well that’s a lot of years of practice!

Why all the love between Chicago and White Castle?

"I think Chicago’s a burger city. And we sell burgers," said one worker.

But not just any burgers. Those peculiar square patties with five holes to speed cooking on a bed of onions. 

Call it Chicago comfort food. 

"They come, and they always have stories. Say, I remember when it was $.40 or $.14 or $.25. So we have long-term customers that come all the time," said Store Manager Leslie Kujat.