The White Castle stationed on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn unceremoniously closed two weeks ago, leaving at least one person “devastated” and leaving a fried-chicken-ring-shaped void in Clinton Hill. Like the other now-closed White Castle on Myrtle Avenue and another in Williamsburg that shuttered last year, the site will presumably be turned into condos, and permits on file at least indicate the fast-food restaurant will be demolished.
Add the chain’s Fourth Avenue Sunset Park location to the list, and you’ve got four White Castles that have closed in the past year, five in 14 months. Primarily because they are usually open 24 hours, Brooklyn residents tend to hold a special place in their hearts for the dingy, grimy stores that are the opposite of the pristine white-walled structure you see here. They are beacons of nostalgia; per square-foot, they tend to contain more existential absurdity than a Samuel Beckett production at any given time. Last year, when the chain’s Metropolitan Avenue location closed, some even mourned.
It’s not just Brooklyn White Castles that are closing: Citywide, the number of locations dropped from 34 to 29 between 2011 and 2012; then from 29 to 27 in early 2014. There are now two dozen left, compared to 536 Dunkin’ Donuts. And despite the wide roll-out of its first-ever veggie burger, other markets have diminished as well: Late last year when six White Castles closed in Cleveland and Akron, customers started lining up on Christmas Eve at noon for one final visit.