July 4, 2010

White Castle doesn't rule out return to Wichita

White Castle is long gone from Wichita but clearly not forgotten.

White Castle is long gone from Wichita but clearly not forgotten.

America's oldest hamburger chain, which Wichitans Walt Anderson and Edgar Waldo "Billy" Ingram started here in 1921, finished 11 votes outside of our top 10.

Based in Columbus, Ohio, since 1934, White Castle is still owned by the Ingram family and has more than 400 restaurants in 11 states. But it hasn't had a restaurant in Wichita since 1938.

And many Wichitans think that is an abomination. There is even a Facebook group called "Bring Back White Castle to Wichita." It has more than 700 members.

"What Wichita really needs, no, what Wichita is entitled to, what Wichita craves, is a White Castle," Wichitan Justin Street said in an e-mail. "I know of at least 1,000 people that would agree."

Jamie Richardson, a White Castle vice president, said the company opens about five to 10 restaurants a year. Those tend to be in the cities where White Castle already operates. The closest White Castle to Wichita is in St. Louis.

But he didn't rule out returning to White Castle's roots one day.

"I think there will come a time in our future where we'll grow into new markets," Richardson said. "And it would be kind of fun to do a boomerang voyage back to where it all started."

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