Isn't it romantic?
A room darkened just so for Valentine's Day. Dinner by candlelight, red roses on the table.
So what if the roses aren't real and the fare is White Castle's finest?
"We thought this would be a hoot," said Sallie Jacob, who dined at the White Castle at Cherry and Bancroft streets with her husband, Ron, and their friends, Bill and Pam Honn.
The Jacobs live in Blissfield, next to the Hathaway House, a restaurant acclaimed for its cuisine.
She and her husband marked their 40th wedding anniversary in December. The Honns marked their 43rd last month.
"Our children can't believe we're doing this," Mrs. Jacob said.
White Castles across the country yesterday offered - by reservation only - candlelit dining and servers taking orders and bringing the chain's specialties to the table.
Couples got to choose from a menu, printed specially with their names. Or they could have the Valentine's Day special for $9 - 10 White Castle burgers, two fries, two drinks.
Last year, the White Castle near downtown Toledo was booked solid, with 22 reservations between 5 and 8 p.m., the hours of the special. Most were made on Valentine's Day.
Couples this year, perhaps with an eye on the weather and the roads, stayed away. The restaurant took four reservations, Manager Rhonda Moore said.
"But this won't discourage us," Ms. Moore said.
Rich Curry, 25, and Laura Brown, 24, both of West Toledo, returned to the White Castle where romance bloomed nearly two years ago.
"It's very special to us," Ms. Brown said.
Each was with a group of friends in March, 2005, at Mutz in the Oliver House during the NCAA basketball tournament. The groups met, as did Mr. Cur-ry and Ms. Brown, and retired to White Castle afterward.
Ms. Brown didn't have a burger then, but she left with Mr. Curry's fries.
"I got her number and gave her my fries," Mr. Curry said.
Ms. Brown said: "His fries won my heart."
Mr. Curry is studying neurology as a fourth-year medical student at the University of Toledo medical school, which is the former Medical College of Ohio.
He will be working for a hospital after graduation, but he won't learn where until next month.
"I don't think we'll be in Toledo next [Valentine's Day]," he said. "But wherever it is, we'll find one."
Ms. Brown added: "I think this might become a tradition."
White Castle isn't alone.
The McDonald's in Archbold, Wauseon, and Napoleon owned by Jim Rivello offer Valentine's Day candlelit dinners, said Barb Horst, a manager at the Wauseon McDonald's. A hostess greeted and sat customers.
"One of our girls is dressed up - just like a fancy restaurant, only at McDonald's," said Nicky Brooks, a manager at the Archbold McDonald's.
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