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Duchnowski: Sharing love and laughs for Valentine’s Day

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

I’m looking for that special man who will take me to White Castle for Valentine’s Day.

I’m not kidding: White Castle decorates its dining room with flowers, candles and tableclothes, plus a nice backdrop for photographs. The staff dresses in red, black and pink, and dinner menus offer specials designed for two and four.

White Castle server Christian Metoyer has worked the past two Valentine’s dinners and has been an employee there since the DeKalb location opened at 1602 S. Sycamore Road five years ago. She’s working a morning shift this year, but she assured me Tuesday that the romantic meals are plenty of fun.

“It’s different because people don’t expect us to do it,” she said.

Metoyer remembers grouping tables together for about six college-aged couples last year, but she assured me that patrons of all ages take advantage of the special atmosphere. Theresa Kaszubski, area supervisor and local marketing representative for Chicago, agreed.

“There’s couples, there’s families, we’re booked,” Kaszubski said. “We’ve had to add extra time slots at some of our stores.”

On Tuesday, there were reservations left for groups of four at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., plus a table for two at 5 p.m., Kaszubski said.

There is a dispute within White Castle company lore about which region started the tradition 22 years ago, but the Chicago-area restaurants have been on board for about a decade, she said.

About 80 restaurants with dining rooms across Chicago are participating this year. You also can send your sweetie a personalized SliderGram online at www.whitecastle.com/promotions/SliderGram.

To place a reservation, call 708-458-4450, ext. 0. If you’re not quite organized enough for reservations, Metoyer said they can probably squeeze you in at the DeKalb location.

“White Castle don’t turn nobody away,” she said, laughing.

• • •

White Castle isn’t the only business spreading love. Comfort Keepers of North Central Illinois, an in-home health care provider, is making sure student-made Valentine’s Day cards are delivered to area nursing homes.

Local schools participating are: St. Mary’s Catholic School in DeKalb, Cornerstone Christian School in DeKalb, and Lincoln Elementary School in DeKalb. Participating facilities are: Pine Acres Rehab & Living Center in DeKalb, Bethany Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center (DeKalb), and DeKalb County Rehab & Nursing Center in DeKalb.

• • •

If you’d like to celebrate Valentine’s Day a second time, check out Feed’em Soup Community Projects second annual pancake dinner Friday. They’ll have mixed berry pancakes, bacon pancakes, cinnamon roll pancakes and Elvis pancakes with peanut butter, chocolate chips and bananas, according to the organization’s website, www.feedemsoup.org.

They can serve about 150 people for lunch between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and about 350 people for dinner from 4:30 to 8 p.m. The cost is $10 a person, with children ages 5 and younger eating for free. Reservations can be made online or by calling 815-310-0903.

• Jillian Duchnowski is the news editor at the Daily Chronicle. Reach her at 815-756-4841, ext. 2221, email jduchnowski@shawmedia.com or follow her on Twitter @JillianDuch.

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