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Undercover Boss

Undercover Boss: Owner of White Castle: Where are They Now?

One of the owners of White Castle, Dave Rife, appeared in season one of Undercover Boss and destroyed thousands of hamburger buns in one of his own restaurants.

Updated By: Catie Kovelman, 05/31/2022 

Season: 1
Episode: 2
Company Name: White Castle 
Undercover Boss: Dave Rife 
Are They Still There?: Yes!

Meet Dave Rife. You may remember him from episode two of season one of “Undercover Boss,” when he went undercover at the White Castle fast-food burger chain. Rife just so happens to be the grandson of White Castle’s founder and he was essentially born to become one of its bosses. And more than 88 years later, the burger chain is still run by family members like Rife, who is one of the owners. 

White Castle is a popular regional hamburger restaurant chain with nearly 400 locations across 13 states, with its greatest presence in the Midwest and New York metropolitan area. But as the owner, Rife rarely sees what it’s like for his staff to work on the frontlines of White Castle’s restaurants, bakeries, and factories. Rife happily agreed to appear on “Undercover Boss” in the hopes that he’d learn valuable insights that could be used to make White Castle a better and stronger company. And oh boy, did he have a lot to learn! 

While undercover and using the alias Dave Allen, White Castle’s owner tried out several entry-level positions throughout his company. However, Mr. Rife quickly learned that working as an entry-level staff member at White Castle is anything but easy. Busy restaurant shifts were stressful, working the White Castle drive-thru line was overwhelming, and restaurant technology was super confusing to this corporate man. Other memorable moments from the White Castle “Undercover Boss” episode included Rife destroying 4,800 hamburger buns and messing up the cheese placement on a high-paced assembly line with White Castle burgers. 

The real highlight of Rife’s “Undercover Boss” experience was the people he met throughout his journey. Although he was disappointed with the lack of morale that was generally shared amongst the White Castle employees, Rife did meet some diamonds in the rough. For example, Rife connected with Donna, a White Castle employee of 23 years and manager. Donna survived a major heart attack, which is something Rife was on the verge of having before beginning his weight loss journey. He was also inspired by Joe’s great attitude as he manned the drive-thru line and José’s goal of becoming a chef. While undercover, Rife got to meet lots of extraordinary people who worked for White Castle and he made a new commitment to make sure none of this talent is able to fall through the cracks. 

The Big Reveal

Of course, it’s not an “Undercover Boss” episode until the boss reveals his identity. When Dave Rife told the people he had met along the way that he wasn’t really Dave Allen, they were naturally shocked. But that surprise turned to feelings of honor and elation when they learned what an impact they had on Rife, and how their boss was now going to use his experiences to improve the company. For example, Rife started a new wellness program to help all White Castle employees live happier and healthier lives because of Donna’s heart attack survival story. Meanwhile, Joe’s attitude inspired Rife to create a Leaders of Tomorrow program to help talented employees within White Castle reach their professional goals. 

Where is Dave Rife, owner of White Castle, now?

As of 6 months after the “Undercover Boss” episode aired in 2010, improvements were still being made at White Castle based on Rife’s undercover experience. According to PR Newswire, Rife was promoted to the position of assistant vice president after the show aired. As a member of White Castle’s Executive Council, Rife is able to play a bigger role in shaping the future of the fast-food chain. According to his Linkedin, Rife is still an owner at White Castle as of 2022, where he currently works as vice president of manufacturing. 

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