The last time White Castle came to Wichita to sell its burgers, people went crazy.
It was 2011, and White Castle brought its mini mobile restaurant to parking lot of the Dillon’s at Central and Rock. People stood in 600-person-long lines and waited 90 minutes to get the famous square-shaped sliders.
Five years later, White Castle is returning. The restaurant will set up its mobile unit at this year’s Wichita Riverfest, organizers say. People will find the booth in at the secondary food court, which sits just east of the Wichita Boathouse. It will be serving classic sliders and sliders with cheese every day of the festival except Monday, June 6, and Tuesday, June 7, when it will be closed. The festival runs June 3-11.
Ann Keefer, who organizes food vendors for the festival, said that a member of the festival’s operations committee recently saw a mobile White Castle vendor set up at the Kansas Speedway and thought it would be a good addition to the Riverfest. He shared the idea with Keefer, who still had a White Castle contact from 2011, when she helped organize part of the Wichita visit.
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Keefer sent an e-mail, and White Castle immediately agreed to participate in the festival.
“It was just kind of serendipitous that I just happened to have a contact there,” she said.
As many food fans know, White Castle got its start in Wichita. Founder Walt Anderson began selling burgers here in 1916. He and partner Edgar Waldo "Billy" Ingram partnered to open the first White Castle in 1921, setting up shop at 201 N. Main. Wichita’s last White Castle closed in 1938.
The 2011 event was a fundraiser put on to help celebrate White Castle’s 90th anniversary.
The White Castle vendor will be open during the festival starting at 11 a.m. on weekends and 4 p.m. on weekdays. Sliders will be 4 for $5 or 4 for $6 with cheese.