There were red tablecloths, candles, heart-shaped balloons and roses on each table, about what you’d expect on Valentine’s Day at many restaurants. But at White Castle?
Yes, love was the order of the evening at the iconic fast-food establishment in Bayside and throughout the square-steamed hamburger chain. White Castle has been offering its popular Valentine’s special for seven years and reservations are a must.
Although some might pooh-pooh the fast-food restaurant as a put-down for loved ones, those interviewed in Bayside had their own spin on the situation.
George Jacobi and Andrea Schwartz of Douglaston are a young couple about to get married. They said this was their second year coming for Valentine’s Day. “We are making it a tradition,” Jacobi said. “We like White Castle a lot.”
Although they said it started out as a joke, the couple admitted that they are happy saving money there while enjoying a meal, because of the upcoming wedding.
Diane and Ron Erster of Whitestone also came for the second year in a row and this time brought their grandchildren, Ryan and Kevin. “My husband loved the burgers when he was growing up in Jackson Heights,” Diane Erster said. “It’s a fun evening, different and cheap.”
“Cat” surprised her boyfriend, Zhang Wu, with the reservation. They’re from College Point. “I heard about it last year and I thought it would be funny to take him here,” Cat said. “But we really like the food.”
Richard and Lucy Chesney of Flushing are among the repeat Valentine customers. “People look at you funny, but this is unique,” Richard Chesney said. “For fast food, it ranks right up there.”
He also likes the atmosphere in the Bayside eatery and that the burgers are not fried. “Most restaurants are booked solid for Valentine’s Day and you can’t get near the places, but here if you reserve, it’s very relaxed and there are no problems,” he said.
When patrons arrive, they are led to a reserved table with their names on it and given a special printed menu. For starters there was potato bacon chowder and shrimp nibblers.
The regular menu of sliders, fish sandwiches, chicken rings and the like was jazzed up for entrees and included a surf ’n’ turf slider: a burger topped with a fish fillet.
Sides included french fries, onion rings and cheese sticks. There was even dessert: fudge-dipped cheesecake on a stick, fudge-dipped brownie on a stick and small milk shakes.
In the Bell Boulevard restaurant there was an area to have your picture taken by the staff that will be posted online by March 3.
Cheerful White Castle employees, dressed in red, took the orders at the tables, and unlike at many restaurants on holidays, did not rush the patrons.
Helene and Greg Trapani of Roslyn, LI were first-timers and thrilled with the ambience, even though the roses were flocked, not real. “We thought it would be fun and he really likes White Castle,” Helene Trapani said of her husband.
He grew up in Flushing and Bayside and pointed to the cheeseburgers as his favorite. The Long Islander said he is not the least embarrassed to tell people where he and his wife were going for their Valentine’s dinner.
“I already posted a picture on Facebook and we haven’t even eaten yet,” Chesney said. “My boss is going to Peter Luger Steak House and I’m here. We’re proud,” Trapani added.