MERRILLVILLE | Reservations made weeks in advance, red tablecloths, glass vases containing red roses adorning the tables, specially-printed menus and sliders.
Organizers hope it all adds up to a happy Valentine’s Day at White Castle restaurants throughout the Chicago area.
The tradition of creating a very different dinner experience for White Castle’s dine-in customers on Valentine’s Day started in the Chicago area in 2007, said Marjorie DeRolf, general manager of the White Castle at U.S. 30 and Broadway.
“We’ve been accepting reservations for tonight since the end of December,” she said of the one-hour seatings at 5, 6 and 7 p.m. Thursday.
As guests entered, they were greeted and led to their tables by hostesses attired in pink shirts. After the diners perused the menu, a waiter or waitress then took their orders and brought them their food.
Each order was specially prepared by the kitchen staff as it came in.
“This whole evening is a blast for our customers and our staff,” said DeRolf. “It creates memorable moments.”
Jennifer and Matthew Gies, of Schererville, brought their young sons, Hunter, 5, and Gavin, 2, to the Merrillville White Castle for a family Valentine’s Day celebration.
“I’ve heard about this for a couple of years and I thought it would be a nice family thing to do,” Jennifer Gies said. “This shows that Valentine’s Day is more than just a couple going out.”
Sandy Wilcox, of Dyer, said she booked the last reservation for a party of four at the Merrillville White Castle more than two weeks ago.
The evening was a Valentine’s Day surprise for Dyer resident Russell Hager. His friends, Art and Jerrie Beckman, of Crown Point, were only too happy to keep the secret.
“We remember when there was only one White Castle in the area and that was in Whiting,” Jerrie Beckman said.
“It’s unusual,” said Art Beckman of the dining experience. “It’s a totally different thing than we’ve traditionally done on Valentine’s Day.”
“Fun”, “different” and “unique” were how Mike Cieszynwski and Joyce Wolfe, of Cedar Lake, described their second Valentine’s Day at White Castle.
“We’re making it a tradition,” Wolfe said. “I called a week ago and there was only one reservation left (for two). Schererville was full already and they had room here.”