VANDALIA — White Castle celebrated the recently completed expansion of the chain’s food manufacturing facility in Vandalia on Thursday morning, with state and local officials recognizing the restaurant‘s $27 million investment.
White Castle’s retail division sold its six billionth retail Slider hamburger at the end of 2021 and achieved record sales last year, the company said.
To keep up with retail demand of frozen Sliders, White Castle broke ground last July on a major expansion of its Vandalia plant, which was completed in August. The expansion roughly doubles the plant’s size from about 71,000 square feet to 145,000 square feet.
Company officials said Thursday that they’ve already expanded from 210 employees to 290 (including temps), and they’re looking to hire 20-30 more people.
City Manager Dan Wendt spoke at Thursday’s event, thanking the White Castle team for investing in the city of Vandalia and sharing one of his early experiences with the restaurant while a student at Ohio State University.
“One Friday night, I found myself at White Castle in the Short North with some students from India who I had made friends with, and I introduced them to their first Slider ... and every time we were out studying at one o’clock in the morning on the Ohio State campus, we would stop and we would get Sliders,” he joked.
“This $27 million expansion, and the hundreds of employees who are here and who will be here eventually, means a lot to this community,” Wendt said.
The expansion added two additional production lines to the facility, with one line still under construction and estimated to be up and running by the end of the year. This will increase the plant’s manufacturing capacity from about 530,000 Sliders per day prior to the expansion to over 1 million once both new lines are fully functional.
Production of the Sliders involves multiple points along the manufacturing line, beginning with cooking the patties and assembling the sandwiches, which then go through an expedited freezing process. The plant uses vertical spiral freezers to fully freeze the sandwiches in 90 minutes. The Sliders are then packaged and sent for shipping to grocery stores throughout Ohio and the nation.
Company officials said each new line has a production capacity of about 20,000 Sliders per hour, up from 18,000 produced hourly by each of the original lines.
Several state, county and local officials attended Thursday’s celebration of the Ohio-based company.
“This company is a place where you can get your first job or a place you could have a career,” said Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted. “It’s just a wonderful place ... And we love that you care about Ohio.”
Columbus-based White Castle broke ground for the original facility near Dayton International Airport in the summer of 2012.
Located on 17 acres off U.S. 40 and Peters Pike, the Vandalia plant was designed to produce more than 16,000 hamburgers per hour per production line. The plant opened in late 2013, quickly hiring more than 100 employees in its early days.