The White Castle hamburger chain is testing beer and wine sales at one of their Indiana outlets, charging $4.50 for wine and $3 for beer.
Tracy Turner with The Columbus Dispatch claims the Lafayette location is a dual-concept restaurant that houses both a White Castle and a Blaze Modern BBQ, one of three new concepts being tested by the company.
Turner adds White Castle is also testing an Asian food concept, Laughing Noodle, in Springfield, and Deckers, whose offerings include grilled sandwiches, in Lebanon, Tennessee.
Turner says Blaze offers traditional barbecue dishes including brisket, pulled chicken and smoked turkey, baked beans and potato salad, while Deckers offers pressed sandwiches with fillings such as Italian meats, turkey pesto, French onion beef, veggies and peanut butter and jelly.
Jamie Richardson, a spokesman for Columbus-based White Castle said customers thought that beer and wine might go nicely with the barbecue that was available at Blaze. “We’re certain that we might have some customers who might enjoy some sliders and a beer or wine as well.”
White Castle’s beer and wine tryout is part of a broader experiment with three concepts the company has been studying for a little over a year, Richardson said.
Burger King, Starbucks and Sonic have all been testing beer and wine sales in selected outlets. David Henkes, a vice president with the Chicago-based food research firm Technomic, says alcoholic beverages are being leveraged to beef up flat food sales. “Alcohol is one of those things that is extremely profitable,” he said.
White Castle would face challenges trying to roll out beer and wine on a wider scale, Henkes said.
“What we find with fast-food places is, there’s very strict regulations around training. Typically, a lot of the employees in fast food are under 21, so you get into some service issues,” he said. “You get into some inventory issues. You get into whether distributors are willing to deliver to you because you’re generally not doing a whole lot of volume in these categories.”
Bonnie Riggs, a restaurant-industry analyst with the NPD Group, a food-service research firm, notes: “It’s been a very challenging time in the restaurant industry in recent years, and folks are trying all kinds of ways of driving traffic into their restaurants and increasing sales.”
The Grumpy Gourmet, a former Columbus Dispatch restaurant critic says nothing’s better than a White Castle slider and a Bordeaux.