White Castle is widely considered to be the oldest quick-service hamburger chain in America and celebrated its 100th birthday in March 2021. The Wichita, Ks.-based chain, known for its small, square burgers and castle-like store architecture, has been run by the Ingram family since its inception.
White Castle was cofounded in 2021 by Edgar Ingram and became known for their spotless, white restaurant interiors and clean uniforms (to offset fears of the beef industry from the publication of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle). The restaurant’s early success in Kansas inspired multiple imitators, none of which exist today.
Co-founder Billy Ingram was succeeded as CEO by his son E. W. Ingram Jr. and later, grandson, E. W. Ingram III. Currently E.W. Ingram III’s daughter, Laura Ingram runs the company as White Castle’s fourth CEO, after Ingram III retired in 2015.
White Castle superfans are known as “cravers” and in 2001, the chain started the Cravers’ Hall of Fame, which honors unique stories from White Castle fans.
In 2015, White Castle began offering veggie sliders for the first time and in 2018, the company began partnering with Impossible Foods to offer another plant-based protein.
Key Data: White Castle
Headquarters: Columbus, Ohio
Segment: Quick Service
Restaurant Segment: LSR Burger
Number of US locations: 356
2020 Sales: $484,664
Source: Datassential Firefly 500
CEO: Lisa Ingram