On Feb. 14, millions of couples across the country will hit the town with their significant other for a night of romance and decadence, and many will spare no expense. According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, the average person will spend about $140 on gifts, dinner and other expenses for their special someone.
But for many, $140 for a single night is pretty steep — no matter how madly in love you are. For those balling on a budget, the go-to Valentine’s Day meal for a quarter of a century has been none other than a “Crave Case” of “sliders.”
That’s right. As ridiculous as it may sound, a romantic night at White Castle has become an annual cult tradition. But Valentine’s Day at the restaurant isn’t your typical trip through the drive-thru.
Since 1991, White Castle has pulled out all the stops on Feb. 14. Not only does the chain recommends that customers call ahead for reservations, but diners are treated to table-side service complete with candles, flowers and heart-shaped balloons. Sliders and chicken rings are served on silver platters, and customers are treated to special Strawberry and Cream Waffles for dessert.
"Valentine's Day has become a fun tradition for us. For many couples, White Castle holds a special place in their hearts. Many have fond memories of first dates here, some even met for the first time at a White Castle – and then there's the few who shared their wedding vows among friends and family in our dining
room," said Jamie Richardson, vice president of White Castle.
In fact, White Castle on Valentine’s Day can be more than just night out for some couple.
Cravers in Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis, Nashville and other cities can reserve Valentine's Day reservations by calling participating stores. Find a full list here.
But White Castle isn’t the only … economically savvy … Valentine’s Day option. Here are a few other restaurants offering special deals on Feb. 14.
Waffle House — In the same vein as White Castle, the South’s favorite breakfast spot will transform into an extravagant, white-tablecloth fine-dining establish for Valentine’s Day evening. Some select Waffle House locations have been serving Valentine’s Day dinners for nearly a decade, complete with special decorations and fine-tailored servers.
Some locations even step up their menus, offering upscale items like steak in addition to the regular breakfast offerings.
“Tons of people come back year over year. One couple that comes to mind is a husband and wife who bring their grandkids each year,” said Kelly Thrasher-Bruner, a media relations staff member with Waffle House.
Thrasher-Bruner added that while reservations aren’t required, they are suggested. Visit Waffle House’s website for a full list of participating restaurants.
Krispy Kreme — Who doesn’t love waking up to a dozen warm, fresh glazed donuts? Picking up a box of Krispy Kreme cruellers is always a good way to say “I love you,” but with a special line of Valentine’s Day themed donuts, it’s a lot easier on Feb. 14.
The shop always makes a number of donuts frosted in pink icing and topped with heart-shaped sprinkles for Valentine’s Day. It even produces X-shaped donuts, so you can literally send that special someone some “XOXO” love.
Qdoba — What’s better than a cheap Valentine’s Day date? How about a free Valentine’s Day date.
That’s what Qdoba Mexican Grill is offering customers this Valentine’s Day, but it comes with a catch — You’ll only get a BOGO burrito if you can convince someone to kiss you in line.
— Emmy (@eschmahl11) February 15, 2014
The restaurant isn’t picky on who you choose to smooch. According to a press release, guests will receive a buy one get one free burrito when they “share a kiss with a significant other, friend, family member or even an understanding stranger at the cash register.”
But that’s not all. Qdoba will donate $1 to No Kid Hungry every time a customer shares their kiss on social media with the hashtag #QdobaForAKiss. So spread the love — and help Qdoba pay it forward.
Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.