I realize that White Castle is a very polarizing thing, so let me say before anything else: Yeah, I know many of you hate the things. Noted.
I am on the other side of the scale, having lived in NYC and Ohio where they have them like we have WAWAs here, and I recently had a craving for them. I was surprised that there are no White Castles here in town and even more so that the only store in Pennsylvania is up near Allentown.
I only moved into the area in 2007. I know that White Castle tried to make a go of it in Philly. Their own website says they launched in the area in 1988 and apparently a location in Willow Grove opened late 1988 or early 1989:
Bitty Burgers For The First Time Ever, Phila. Area Folks Can Get Their Fill Of White Castle's Square Fare. Thirty-eight Cents Buys A Sandwich. Of Course, Who Can Eat Just One? - Philly.com
There was also one at Broad & Poplar according to another story:
You Never Just Have One Here's Why Those White Castle Burgers Taste Like 'More' - Philly.com
According to that story:So apparently the chain had high hopes for the area but I have no idea when the restaurants closed (a Google street view of Broad & Poplar shows me no indication there was once a castle there). So I ask those who lived here - did they get a bunch of them running or did they fizzle before even that?White Castle Systems Inc., which owns and operates 231 White Castle restaurants in the Midwest, South and on the East Coast, last year opened its first area restaurant on Easton Road in Willow Grove Park Mall.
The Broad and Poplar joint, which opened Tuesday, marks the second site in the Philadelphia area, and at least 20 more may be operating in the area in the next three years, according to a company spokesman.
I have trouble believing that White Castle would not so well in this area. It's heartbreaking on a personal level but aside from me, Philly just seems like a perfect place for White Castle and I am surprised it failed so dramatically, apparently.