10 things to know about this fast growing burger chain

For all Floridians concerned, their burgers just don’t have enough butter, you’re in luck. Culver is spreading rapidly across the state.

The Wisconsin-based chain – known nationally for its ButterBurgers, frozen crème fraîche and cheese curds – is the Midwest’s answer to other cult, regional chains, such as White Castle and Shake Shack in New York City. , and In-N-Out Burger from California. But over the past few years, they’ve made Florida a priority, and the pandemic doesn’t seem to have slowed that down much.

the first Culver in Tallahassee just opened on May 10. Jacksonville and St. Augustine each got one in January. There are currently 75 Culver Florida locations, with new ones coming soon to Pensacola, Cape Coral, St. Cloud and Jacksonville again. There are also plans for two more in Saint-Augustin, two in Lakeland and one in Ocala by the end of the year, among many others.

Here are a few things you might not know about the self-proclaimed “world’s slowest fast food”.

A Culver ButterBurger is served on Thursday, May 6, 2021.

1. What’s a Culver’s ButterBurger, anyway?

Wisconsin, one of the major dairy producing states, has traditionally offered two types of butter burgers: butter burgers with generous chunks of butter melting directly on the beef patties and butter burgers with a butter bun. wire rack. Co-founder Craig Culver went with the second, inspired by his mother’s homemade burgers.

The juicy burger is made with a double serving of Midwestern beef patties (made with a special blend of three cuts of fresh, never frozen, 100% Midwest beef) topped with options such as shredded lettuce, mayo, tomatoes , red onions, pickles and Wisconsin cheese, all sandwiched between lightly toasted and buttered buns. Use two hands. And lots of towels.

Culver’s ButterBurger has been named America’s Favorite Fast Food Burger in 2018, according to Restaurant Business.

2. How did Culver get started?

Craig Culver wanted to create his own home and serve comfort food from his childhood. They had butter burgers would be popular after seeing the response to them when his family operated a supper club. And he drew inspiration from another unlikely source: the Milwaukee drive-in that was the model for arnold, in the TV show “Happy Days”.

After working as a manager at various fast food chains, in 1984 Culver and his family transformed a former A&W root beer building in Sauk City, Wisconsin into the first Culver.

It took three years to turn a profit.

“It was like throwing a party and no one ever showed up,” Culver says of those early days. “No one knew who we were. It was thin pickings.

Today, nearly 37 years later, Culver’s is one of the fastest growing chains in the United States with $ 1.8 billion in sales in 2019, according to the Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report 2020 by Technomics, a restoration and restoration research company. They rank 38th overall, ahead of Five Guys ($ 1.6 billion), Waffle House ($ 1.3 billion), In-N-Out Burger ($ 957 million) and White Castle ($ 579 million). dollars).

After:Culver’s becomes a fast food force with ‘butter burgers’ and ice cream

An order of Culver cheese curds is served on Thursday, May 6, 2021.

3. What is Culver cheese curds?

Think small, chopped mozzarella sticks, but with fresh white or yellow Wisconsin cheddar cheese from the same family-owned dairy farm that’s been associated with the chain for almost 20 years. In 2015, they served more than 18 million orders.

Culver began serving these addicting Midwestern staples in 1997 and even created National Cheese Curd Day on October 15 to pay tribute to them.

4. Why is Culver slower than other fast food restaurants?

Culver’s was way ahead of the curve when it comes to the “fast casual” trend. You order at the counter, take a number for you and wait for your food to be delivered to you as nothing is cooked before ordering it.

“We were pioneers in this field”, Culver told USA Today. “We wanted to make it to order. I like to call ourselves the slowest fast food restaurant in the world, and we’re proud of it.

“This is what makes us a fast food restaurant in and of itself, because we cook everything fresh,” said Kevin Cupuro, franchise owner of the new Tallahassee location. “So you could wait about four to five minutes for your food instead of popping it right out the window.”

Culver's ice cream is a signature treat.

5. What is Culver Ice Cream? Is it ice?

Kind of. It’s thicker and creamier than ice cream because Culver’s uses eggs, and they slowly mix in small batches throughout the day to keep it fresh. And, of course, they use dairy products from over 100 Wisconsin family farms.

They have several flavors and varieties available on the menu but fans are keeping an eye out for ‘Flavor of the Day’, a tradition that started with the very first restaurant. Midnight Toffee, Really Reese’s, Chocolate Oreo Volcano, Cappuccino Cookie Crumble, Mint Explosion … each location has its own combination of custard and add-ins that changes every day.

Need to discover the flavor of today? You can sign up for a monthly calendar newsletter from your preferred location, or you can ask alexa.

6. Why are there so many Culvers in Florida?

On the one hand, Craig Culver’s parents were seasonal residents of Lee County.

“Mum and dad would be in Fort Myers Beach, and (his wife) Lea and I would spend a few weeks here,” Culver said.

Southwest Florida is full of cheeseheads, he said, which is why the first Florida sites started there. “There are so many Midwestern people here who know our name.”

Culver CEOs in SWFL: People first, then ButterBurgers


7. Does Culver’s make its own root beer?

Oh yes. If you dine there, Culvers offers a self-serve fountain with Pepsi products and freshly brewed iced tea, but their signature drink is their root beer, a particular Craig Culver favorite. He created the recipe back in the day with local ingredients.

It is available as a fountain drink or as part of a float with a crème fraîche.

8. Does Culver’s help employees at school?

Culver’s offers scholarships through the nonprofit organization Culver Foundation. According to their website, they started with a single $ 500 scholarship to a staff member in 1993. In 2020, they awarded $ 559,000 in scholarships to 239 team members in 21 states.

9. What else does Culver serve?

No burger mood? The restaurant also sells chicken, sandwiches including pork tenderloin and roast beef, seafood, salads, soup and other comfort food, as well as multiple flavors of cream, floats. , shakes and malts.

10. Can Culver get more from the Midwest?

Not for lack of trying. From loading the menu with Midwestern comfort food, to using Wisconsin cattle and dairies, to showcasing polite and friendly service, Culver’s hopes to bring the Midwest to everyone. Even Florida.

As Culver CEO Joseph Koss puts it, “We took this Wisconsin hospitality and brought it to every market we come to.”

“People find our food warm and heartwarming, and our hospitality in the same way,” said Garth Darton, who owns the new St. Augustine franchise with his wife Lisa.

When Craig Culver talks to employees about new franchises, he stresses the importance of building relationships, which in turn builds a loyal following.

“Where does the hospitality come from?” Culver asked Fort Myers staff. “It comes from the heart.

“It’s more than ButterBurgers and ice cream. It’s about people. ButterBurger tastes a lot better when there’s a smile behind it.”

CA Bridges is a digital producer for the USA TODAY network. Follow him on Twitter at @cabridges

About Marc Womack

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