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  • Welcome! My name is Kelly, and I am a picky eater. On this blog I share recipes, new (to me) foods, restaurants, and products that I try in an effort to expand my tastes. You might also find me talking about my pug Olive, Miss Kitty, Project Life, my journey with running, and more! Feel free to contact me: [email protected]

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Culver’s Visit

Full Disclosure: I was invited by Culver’s PR team to come to this blogger event.  The food (and some super fun swag) was complimentary.  I am not being compensated for this post, and the opinions are completely my own.

Earlier this week was an event that I had been looking forward to for a while:  A trip to the Culver‘s Support Center, and lunch the restaurant in Sauk City.  Why was I so excited? Culvers is (what I like to call) a local fast food restaurant.  The original Culver’s was in Sauk City, WI, and while there are now many throughout the country (in 21 different states!) when I was growing up it was really a midwest only thing.  It always seemed so much different to me than typical fast food restaurants – and after talking with Craig Culver, and other staff members, I now know why.  It is so much more than a fast food restaurant.  It is a family driven business.

saukcity

When I was in high school, I spent a lot of time at Culver’s.  At least once a week I would gather there with friends and we would share a family sized basket of fried cheese curds and some sodas.  Occasionally we would get “real food” along with the cheese curds, and it quickly became somewhere that I knew I could always find food that I would eat. What it was that I would eat changed throughout the years.  Growing up it was always chicken tenders and fries (or cheese curds).  As I grew older it varied a bit more among salads, chicken tenders, fries, cheese curds, fish, and lemon ice. That lemon ice is SO good. I still love that the food is so consistently a high quality, and no mater what group of people I go with, there is always something for everyone. Last summer when some relatives and I were driving through northern Wisconsin, we came across one in a small town where almost everything else was closed because it was Sunday.  We were all quite hungry (verging on hangry) so I was so excited to see somewhere that I knew everyone could find something to eat.

Anyways, back to the blogger event.

scoopy

I met the two other bloggers and three of Culver’s communications/PR people at their Support Center (what they call their headquarters) at about 10am.  Right off the bat, everyone was so friendly and welcoming.  Even people that we walked by in the halls seemed to have a smile on their face.  It was clear from the beginning that it was not the typical office building where people sit for hours on end and hate their jobs. Shortly after everyone arrived, we got a chance to chat with Craig Culver, CEO and co-founder (with his wife and parents) of Culver’s. You know, that guy you see on the commercials.  I’m not sure what I was expecting him to be like, but he was so much more animated and down to earth than I expected. He told us the story of how everything started, how it wasn’t easy from the beginning, and how their team members and franchise partners always seem to be the bet people around.  Throughout all of the story telling was a theme of passion and persistence.  Craig and his parents came into the business with no formal restaurant training.  The first year running Culver’s was a struggle. With smiles on their faces and a passion for hospitality in their hearts, they knew they could push through the rough times and make it work.  His whole story is very fascinating and it is clear that he is still very passionate about the business and is not just the CEO that sits at the head of the table but really is involved in every step still today.  That was made clear not only by his words, but also when we visited the restaurant and saw him helping out with every aspect of service (even running orders to drive-through customers. And I mean literally running), and apparently that happens often.

craigculver

At the restaurant we got the chance to try many different menu items.  It was quite interesting to be there with one blogger who is a burger lover, one that is a vegetarian, and myself,  the pickiest eater. Each of us had several different items that they chose for us to try while we were there. They really proved that they do have something for everyone.

culversfoods

From left to right: North Atlantic Cod Fillet Sandwich, Sweet Potato Fries, Chicken Tenders, Cheese Curds, Grilled Chicken Sandwich.

I think it would surprise you to find out that the one thing in this group that I hadn’t tried before was the grilled chicken sandwich. I really don’t know why I hadn’t since a grilled chicken sandwich is kind of my standard when ordering food.  As with everything else on the menu, it didn’t disappoint! My (current) favorite is the chicken tenders, though the fish fillet is something that I’ve been leaning towards more often when I’m looking for protein and not in the mood for chicken.  Oh, and we also got to sample some of their desserts – and yes, they are pumpkin flavored because it is that time of the year! If you’ve been reading for a while, you already know that I am not a huge fan of pumpkin, or pumpkin spiced things.  However, I have to say that I did really enjoy the new Salted Caramel Pumpkin Concrete Mixer.  I think it was the added sweetness of the caramel that made it a little different than normal pumpkin spice.  They also have a pumpkin spice shake, and several other pumpkin based fall dessert items. Random fact: The pumpkins that they use are sustainably grown in the Willamette valley of Oregon, and no part of them goes to waste.  What is leftover after harvest and production is turned into renewable energy that helps power the farm! That is so cool!

culversdesserts

Speaking of seasonal items.  The sweet potato fries that I mentioned before are also seasonal, and at the end of their season unfortunately.  Also now gone from the stores for the cooler months is the lemon ice. (which I LOVE and am so sad that it is gone.) A new seasonal item that will be coming in the next few weeks (October 28th to be exact) is the Zesty Pepper Grinder Pub Burger: two fresh beef patties made from 100% U.S. Midwest-raised beef pressed together and seared, layered with melty swiss and cheddar cheeses, then topped with two slices of bacon and peppery mayo all served on an “everything” bun.  Last fall they introduced a pub burger and it was a huge success, so this year they changed it a bit and brought it back.

pubburger

(source: Culver’s)

Culver’s is also committed to the community and sustainability.  Since they care about where their food comes from, and want to make sure their guests have the freshest high quality food possible, they have depended on farmers and have had a relationship with family farms since the restaurant opened in 1984.  Since those great farmers are so important to the Culver’s experience, they wanted to give back and show gratitude to these hard working people.  Culver’s is partnering with the national FFA Organization.  Through their “Thank You, Farmers” program, they are giving back to the farming community and supporting agricultural education, so that those great farming practices will continue on with the next generation. Want to help them give back to the agricultural community? It’s easy!

  • Click this link to go to Facebook and add your Thank You Note to the Thank a Farmer Today gallery
  • Post a Thank-You note on Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #ThankYouFarmers
  • Share a note on culvers.com
  • or stop in your local location and write  a note!

img-hero-thankyoufarmers

(Source: Culver’s)

With each note received they will donate $1 on your behalf!  Another really unique thing that they are doing is encouraging kids who receive Scoopie Tokens intended for frozen custard or toys to turn them back in to the restaurant. Each token represents a monetary donation Culver’s will be making to local FFA chapters. It’s a great opportunity for parents to show that giving back is important and feels good!

Other random fun facts that I learned from my visit to Culver’s:

  • Each location chooses their own custard flavor of the day.  It isn’t by nationwide, or by city.  There is a (quite extensive) list that they can choose from, but they have the flexibility to choose what they thing their guests will like…or what they like the most, I suppose.
  • You can substitute salad or veggies for fries in any of the meals.  You can also substitute soup for $1.00 more!
  • There is a veggie burger on the menu.
  • There is a “mini” size of concrete mixer.
  • Before you become a franchise partner, you have to work 6 10-hour days in a store.
  • Even though “made to order” and “cooked to order” sound like the same thing, they are not. Made = things are already cooked and the sandwich is just assembled when the order is placed. (typical fast food)  Cooked = fresh ingredients are cooked for your meal when the order is placed.  Culver’s cooks every order fresh as it comes in.
  • They just hired a dietitian on staff.  They are currently looking at the food allergies and dietary restrictions that are becoming more common, and trying to find a way to add to or modify the menu to meet those needs. (they do already have a wonderful grid that makes it easy to find allergen information, but they want to do more.)

There are MANY more things that I could talk to you about why Culver’s is such a great place, but I will stop here to save this post from being even longer than it already is.  I encourage you to check out their website to learn more about their quality food and what sets them apart from other “fast food” style restaurants.

8 Responses

  1. I’m a fellow Wisconsinite and love Culver’s – so cool to hear what an amazing company they are too!

  2. I miss Culver’s so much! Loved reading about their business and products – thanks for sharing, Kel! I think I’ll have to make a stop at a Culver’s next fall 😉 (and maybe in December when I’m in Denton)

  3. I already loved Culver’s… this only made me love it more! And there’s one close to my house now 🙂

  4. I don’t think jealous accurately describes how I’m feeling. You met Mr Culver! Also, I am now starving after reading this post!

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