John E. Saxe and Thomas E. Saxe started White Tower Hamburgers after investigating various White Castle locations, observing operations and hiring a White Castle operator. The first location opened near Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. By the end of 1927, there were six locations in Milwaukee and Racine, Wisconsin. In 1929, White Tower put 30 locations in Detroit alone. Despite the Depression, White Tower expanded to 130 locations. White Tower placed many of its restaurants near train and trolley stops.
In 1929, White Castle sued White Tower in Minnesota for unfair competition and White Tower counter-sued in Michigan as White Tower had arrived in Michigan first. The Minnesota case ended in 1930 in favor of White Castle, forcing White Tower to end its use of similar building designs, slogans and name. The Michigan case dragged on until 1934, revealing the hiring away of a White Castle location operator and photographing of the latest White Castle to keep up on design. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit later affirmed the lower court's rulings that they had copied White Castle deliberately. White Castle refrained from forcing a name change for White Tower but did require new locations to pay a royalty fee, and to send photos of the locations. Having to change its look, White Tower first used an art deco, then modernistic designs. Territorially, White Tower and White Castle stayed away from each other from then on.
In 1941, White Tower Management Corporation moved its headquarters to Six Suburban Ave., Stamford, CT.Former White Tower Diner in Upper Darby Township, Pennsylvania, USAWhite Tower restaurant, Granby Mall, Norfolk, Virginia, 1984. Has since been demolished.
At its peak in the mid-1950s, the chain had 230 stores in several states. It tested the "Tower-O-Matic" automated restaurant in the 1950s and 60s with little success. It also attempted a sit-down restaurant called Marbett's. Many later suburban White Tower restaurants featured curb service with car hops.
Brock Saxe took over as president of White Tower Management Corporation in 1970 from his father, T.E. Saxe, when he retired. Brock changed the name of White Tower Corporation to Tombrock Corporation on the corporation's 50th anniversary as it also owns a chain of steakhouses called Brock's. With the migration of people to the suburbs and most of the White Tower locations in the city, by 1979 only 80 Tombrock Corporation-owned locations remained. Tombrock Corporation branched out into franchising Burger Kings and Golden Skillet Chicken. Today, Tombrock Corporation, having exited the restaurant business as an operator, is a real estate investment and management company based in New Canaan, Connecticut.
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