White Castle, the Oldest Hamburger Chain in the U.S., Embraces On-Demand Tech

Photo Credit: Mike Vitelli/BFA/Shutterstock
December 31, 2018

By Michael Teich

Convenience has been the prime selling point for fast-food joints for decades, but new technology and a surplus of on-demand delivery options are eating away at the value proposition for companies building their business around speed and drive-thru lanes.

"Delivery is really reshaping the whole landscape, and those that are early adapters are really going to benefit," said White Castle VP Jamie Richardson in an interview with Cheddar.

The popularity of on-demand delivery services has prompted restaurants to either create partnerships with those companies or risk falling behind and missing out on consumers who prioritize convenience. White Castle has made an effort to get on-board early by expanding delivery to more than 300 locations in partnerships with GrubHub ($GRUB), DoorDash, Postmates, and Uber Eats.

"It's changing everything," Richardson added.

White Castle's mobile app is another way the Columbus-based chain is looking to optimize the consumer experience and boost sales. Richardson told Cheddar that White Castle's app "doubled in terms of the percent of sales it represented this year." People who order fast food via a mobile app or online increase their spending by 20 percent, according to Deloitte.

"For us, it's all about the app. The mobile app is something we can empower each of our customers with," he said.

While technological advancements and speed of delivery improve the consumer experience, quality of food and menu diversity are also crucial, Richardson stressed. Four months ago, White Castle became the largest fast-food chain to implement the Impossible Burger, a meatless burger substitute, on its menu.

It's not just for vegans, he said. "People love a range of tastes."