The Richmond Register

February 14, 2013

Romance and recession

Simple, low-budget White Castle, Waffle House a tradition for some

By Bill Robinson
Register Editor

RICHMOND — Brian and Leah Simpkins were married on Feb. 14, 2009.

On Feb. 14, 2013, they celebrated their anniversary with a simple meal at White Castle on the Eastern Bypass, something they have done for the past three years.

If the fast-food restaurant hadn’t been overcrowded on Feb. 14, 2010, they would have celebrated all four of their anniversaries at White Castle.

The couple met as graduate students at Eastern Kentucky University.

They didn’t come to White Castle that often while they were dating, Leah said, but when she and Brian heard the restaurant set its tables with linen tablecloths and flowers for Valentine’s Day, they were attracted by the novelty of the idea for an anniversary date.

On their second anniversary, they knew to make a reservation and enjoyed the experience so much, they have made it a tradition.

“It’s out of the ordinary, and it’s fun,” Leah said, as a White Castle guest specialist delivered their order.

For the special day, orders were brought to customers’ tables instead coming to the counter when their names were called.

The couple liked that there was no wait at White Castle, Leah said, something they appreciated even more after seeing the long lines outside the doors of some other bypass restaurants as they drove by Thursday evening.

“We were at this same table last year,” she said as the setting sun cast its light through a window.

Their 1-year-old son Gavin was being kept by his grandparents, Marion and Jenny Cornelison

Leah, who has lived in Richmond her entire life, is an occupational therapist for a local nursing home.

Brian, from Huntington, W.Va., teaches at the EKU Justice and Safety Center where he helps trains employees of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

Edwin and Carolyn Bickett brought their grandson, Landon Crafton, 10, with them for their Valentine’s Day meal at White Castle. His parents, who both teach at Clark-Moores Middle School, were attending a CMMS ballgame.

Asked why they chose White Castle for Valentine’s Day, Carolyn said, “Landon likes it.”

The Bicketts have five grandchildren and expect another one next week.

“Grandchildren are the best thing that can happen to you,” Carolyn said, to which Landon said, “Yep.”

Valentine’s Day was also a family affair for Judy Collins, who came to White Castle with her daughter, Jackie Marshall, Jackie’s son, Brody, 2, and another grandson, Jackie Cates, 16.

“We like to eat at White Castle,” said Jackie Marshall, who works for a doctor’s office and wore a red scrub top for Valentine’s Day.

Waffle House on North Keeneland Drive was another Richmond restaurant that shed its normal simplicity by bringing out the linen tablecloths and special decorations for Valentine’s Day.

Daniel and Cindy Lavoire said they often eat at Waffle House on Saturday mornings and decided to dine there for Valentine’s Day after the staff told them what they had planned.

“It’s darling in here,” Cindy said of the decorations and atmosphere.

The normally white lamp over their table cast a red glow through the red covering draped over it.

Bill Robinson can be reached at or at 624-6690.