Culver’s: Welcome to Delicious
March 27, 2021
Frozen Custard and ButterBurgers
It all started with George and Ruth…
In 1961, George and Ruth Culver bought an A&W on Phillips Boulevard, Sauk City. In 1968 they purchased a restaurant at Devil’s Lake called The Farm Kitchen. By 1984, they had decided to sell both restaurants and, along with their son, Craig, and his wife, Lea, they opened the first Culver’s Frozen Custard and ButterBurgers restaurant. Craig led the company from its founding through to 2015.
In 2017, the Roark Capital Group bought a minority share in the Culver’s Corporation, with the Culver family retaining majority ownership.
In 1988, the Culver family agreed to let Culver restaurant be franchised. The charged no fees or royalties, allowing the franchisee to start his business with very little investment. Unfortunately, a year later the franchisee no longer wanted to be in the restaurant business and simply walked away. A lesson learned the hard way for the Culver family.
Despite their bad experience, the Culver family still wanted to allow franchises, so they established a set of standard franchising procedures that continue to be used by Culver Franchising System, Inc. Three years later, they tried again with another franchise in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Business quickly doubled and the chain expansion into the Middleton, Madison and Milwaukee areas.
By 1993, Culver’s had a chain, of 14 restaurants across southern Wisconsin. In 1995 the opened their first restaurants outside Wisconsin in Buffalo, Minnesota; Roscoe, Illinois; and Dubuque, Iowa. In February 1998, the company opened the first Culver’s outside the Midwest in Texas.
The current franchising rate is about 40 new stores per year.
Culver’s and Casual Dining…
Culver’s Blue Spoon Cafe opened its first soup-sandwich-salad restaurant in 2000 in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin. The name Blue Spoon comes from the color of the spoons used at the Culver’s fast food restaurants. A second Blue Spoon Cafe in Middleton, Wisconsin, was open for two years but closed in August 2010. The Prairie du Sac location closed in May 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2013, according to a survey by Franchise Business Review, Culver Franchising System was rated No. 1 in franchisee satisfaction among restaurant franchises.
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