When I first moved to Wisconsin, my husband could not wait to introduce me to frozen custard. I had never heard of it before and was picturing something like frozen pudding and I wasn’t all that excited to try it. In reality, frozen custard is a lot like soft serve ice cream, but richer, creamer, and just better! I quickly became a fan and had fun trying all of the different frozen custard places in the area trying to find my favorite.
It didn’t take long to land in a local Culver’s to give them a try. I immediately put them at the top of my favorites list for several reasons. First, their famous Butter Burgers are to die for! (They are called Butter Burgers since the bun is buttered which adds a signature flavor to their already yummy burgers.) No matter what I tried at Culver’s, burgers, fish, salads, everything was always top quality and guaranteed to be good. Culver’s quickly became our go-to choice for burgers and/or frozen custard. One of the things that really won me over (besides the fabulous food) was Culver’s involvement in the local community, but I’ll go into that a bit more later.
So imagine my thrill when I was invited to come out to Culver’s headquarters last month and actually meet Craig Culver ( co-founder and CEO of Culver’s) and learn about the story behind Culver’s creation and growth. I arrived in Prairie du Sac where Culver’s is located on a beautiful fall morning. This is the view from the conference room where we had our meeting with Craig Culver. I seriously could NOT work here as I think I would spend my day just gazing out the window!
You’ve probably seen Craig Culver on one of their many commercials. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when meeting him. It turns out he is so down to earth and so very humble about all that he has built. He gave us the back story about how his parents were in the restaurant business and he rejected it completely at first. He later started the first Culver’s with his dad and it was absolutely heart-warming to see the affection with which he remembered those first tough days. He spoke a bit about the challenges of being an entrepreneur and I resisted the urge to jump up and scream “YES!!!” when he talked about the necessity of taking risks in any entrepreneurial endeavor.
We were treated to lunch at the very first Culver’s in Sauk City. First, we took a tour of the restaurant and I was impressed that Craig knew all of the employees by name (and many of the customers as well!). We learned the difference between made-to-order and cooked-to-order which is what really sets the quality of Culver’s food apart. Most fast food restaurants offer made-to-order food, which means it is already cooked, but can be assembled the way you prefer. Culver’s doesn’t even form the fresh ground beef (not frozen!!) patty until you have placed your order. It is cooked-to-order, meaning it is cooked especially for you. Huge difference!
I loved trying some of the new pumpkin themed treats as I hadn’t had a chance to yet. Right away, I loved the authentic flavor and Craig shared that there was indeed actual pumpkin in there! I also learned the secret behind why I love the root beer at Culver’s so much – it is their own brew! That totally explains it! I *may* have also learned the two secret ingredients Culver’s adds to their tartar sauce that makes it extra special. I’m not sharing, but I have been adding them to my own tartar sauce and have gotten rave reviews!
I had loved the colby jack pub burger that was out for a short while last year and was thrilled to hear that they are bringing it back with a slight twist. Starting this week, the Pepper Grinder Pub Burger will be available for a limited time only. We had a chance to preview this delectable treat while we were at Culver’s and it is sooooo good! (I’m not usually a pepper fan, but this burger has just the right amount.)
Once we were done talking “business” at lunch, Craig excused himself from the table. The next thing I knew, he was dashing past the window bringing guests in the drive thru line their orders. I almost fell over!! We were in the middle of the lunch rush and he wanted to jump in and give the team a hand.
The PR team shared that this happens whenever they visit a Culver’s location. To me, that totally summed up my impression of the whole Culver’s operation – it’s like a big family and everyone is in it to see the family succeed. You don’t see that a lot anymore and it made me feel really good about being such a fan.
This attitude spills over into Culver’s involvement with the local community. My family loved being involved in the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight program and loved how much support Culver’s put behind this great program as well. Culver’s is also involved in numerous other local organizations including Give a Pint, Get a Pint (blood donation program), the American Cancer Society, Future Farmers of America as well as having their own scholarship program for their team members.
I was sad when the afternoon was over as I loved hearing all about the inner workings of one of my favorite haunts! The nice folks at Culver’s sent me on my way with a few special gifts! I love my apron and spatula – so much so that I probably won’t be using them but will hang them in my office instead!
Huge thanks to folks at Culver’s Corporate and their PR team for having me out for such a fun afternoon!! I was their invited guest for educational purposes and did not receive any compensation. All opinions are my own.