White Castle cancels 'fine dining' on Valentine's Day

Courtesy White Castle
By Parija Kavilanz, CNN Business

(CNN) -- Love at White Castle just got canceled. 

The burger chain's restaurants in select markets have long held a special dining-in experience on Feb. 14 for lovesick couples who want to remember their special day with $1 burgers and french fries.

In years past, White Castle would add a few romantic touches to its restaurants, transforming them into "fine dining" rooms, complete with reservations, hostess seating, tableside service and plenty of festive red décor, rather than its usual no-frills tiled floors and blue-and-white tables and chairs. The company said the unique setup drew as many as 30,000 people to participating regional locations in 2018.

But as the highly contagious Omicron surge continues, White Castle announced Tuesday it won't be doing the event at all this year.

"It was a difficult decision for the 101-year-old family business, which has been celebrating Valentine's Day with its customers since 1991," the company said in a statement.

"We had hoped to take reservations this year, but out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of our customers and team members, we decided the best thing to do is shift our focus to an experience that customers can take with them," said Jamie Richardson, vice president at White Castle.

Last year, White Castle gave the Valentine's Day celebration a socially distanced tweak. Instead of dining inside, customers could book a parking spot and enjoy car-side service.

The company isn't forgoing the day completely, however. White Castle is making it a to-go celebration with a very pink "Love Cube" meal box.

The meal for two (which can be delivered for free on Valentine's Day through White Castle's delivery partners on all orders $15 and up) includes eight cheese sliders, two small soft drinks and a choice of two shareable sides. Cost of the meal: About $15.

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