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White Wine at the White Castle

Posted: Thursday, 22 December 2011 17:46

White Wine at the White Castle

Dec 22: Following the successful experiment of wine and beer addition to the Menu of Starbucks, the Columbus, Ohio based 90-year old fast burger chain White Castle known for its square 'slider' burgers, has also started an experiment with the bold concept of offering wine and beer ahead of the leading burger chains McDonald’s and Burger King but practical problems may prevail.

White Castle which has been popular as a quick pit stop to fill up after intake of liquor has been struggling to maintain its niche as its newer but bigger burger brethren like McDonald's and Burger King have had an insatiable appetite to conquer the world. So, it has decided to innovate starting with serving wine at $4.50 a glass and beer at $3 and up at an Indiana store.

Customers have had a "very positive" reaction to the alcoholic beverages like wine and beer –the New York Daily News survey online asking ‘ would you order an alcoholic drink at White Castle?’ got  70% positive responses including mine though I would have worded it differently with ‘wine and beer’ instead of ‘alcoholic drink’. But experts feel that expanding the concept might have limitations the least of which might be the age of the serving staff being generally less than the legal age of 21 years.

The companies see alcoholic beverages as a growth opportunity after years of flat sales, Earlier this year, Burger King opened the Whopper Bar South Beach, a restaurant in Miami Beach offering beer. White Castle's beer and wine experiment is also part of a broader concept at 3 different locations that the company has been studying for over a year. These casual stores look like White Castle's on the outside, but look different inside. Besides Blaze Modern BBQ where the barbeque might make a perfect match with wine, there's an Asian food brand, Laughing Noodle, at a White Castle in Springfield, Ohio. A triple-decker sandwich concept, ‘Deckers’ in Tennessee is also ready for such a trial.

In India, the  concept is being tried out at Narula’s and some stand alone burger restaurants besides Barista coffee chain, but it is unlikely that McDonald’s would be in a hurry to try out the same due to the success with younger kids and it might not be a good idea to rock the boat. But the casual fine dining places would find the concept attractive to experiment with since there is a significant number of clientele over 25 years-the current legal age in most place in India. The recent laws to allow only beer and wine at much cheaper excise licenses, makes it worth the try wherever market demands it.

Subhash Arora

       

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