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White Castle returns Sunday

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Newly built restaurant has 'kitchen of the future'

By Marty Finley

Those who have craved White Castle since February when it closed the doors to its store at exit 94 of Interstate 65 need not fret any longer.

The popular hamburger chain returns to Elizabethtown on Sunday in a newly built facility. The company demolished its previous restaurant to modernize its local presence.

“They don’t have to go to Disney World to come to Tomorrowland,” said Vice President Jamie Richardson of the new building.

The updated White Castle features an open kitchen design that is the first of its kind for the chain. A throwback concept, it allows patrons once again to watch hamburgers being made, which is a callback to White Castle’s earliest days.

“We think this is part of the magic of White Castle,” Richardson said.

As part of the floor design, the kitchen is constructed for “maximum comfort and efficiency” for the cooks who prepare the food and those who package the products for consumption.

The dining room is twice the size of the old restaurant, and it features an upgraded décor and four flat screen televisions among other amenities designed to improve customer visits, said Shawna Jones, regional director of restaurant operations, in a statement.

It also is expected to have an economic impact, employing around 50 full- and part-time workers.

“In addition to White Castle’s local popularity, we expect the new restaurant to entice travelers to stop in E’town, and hopefully they will stay awhile when they do,” said Mayor Edna Berger in a statement.

White Castle intends to test its “kitchen of the future design” in Elizabethtown and will make adjustments before rolling it out nationally, Jones said.

The restaurant reopens at 10 a.m. Sunday, when it will host a promotional contest in which customers can register to win a VIP Craver Party inside the dining room and invite 10 special guests. No purchase is necessary to enter the contest, which runs through July, according to a news release.

Before the public unveiling, a ribbon cutting and “sneak peek” ceremony is at 11 a.m. Friday for local officials and family and friends of the store’s workers, Richardson said.

“It’s kind of a nice way to get us ready for Sunday,” he said.

White Castle is a family-owned business headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, that operates more than 400 restaurants in 12 states, according to the release. The company was founded in Wichita, Kan., in 1921 and publicly touts itself as America’s first fast-food hamburger chain.

Marty Finleycan be reached at (270) 505-1762 or mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com.