The Culver's Story
Craig Culver and the restaurant chain bearing his last name is truly a Wisconsin success story now spanning across 25 states. But, it wasn’t always that way. Hear Craig as he talks about the early years when too few cars were in the parking lot and there were too many doubts as to whether the little restaurant was going to survive the tough competitive landscape. Through faith, unwavering determination and a can-do attitude, Culver’s single restaurant turned into a growing franchise. In fact today there are more than 800 locations. Join the conversation with Craig as he shares Culver’s recipes for success, the home runs they hit over the years and the obstacles that had to be overcome. The Culver’s story will enlighten and motivate you to be a more intentional and thoughtful leader – and you’re sure to leave with a smile on your face!
Raised in the small town of Sauk City, Wisconsin, Craig Culver never imagined he would become a leader in the food industry. Although he was raised in the business, Culver himself never planned for it to be his career.
After graduating from University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh with a degree in biology, Culver was unsure about what to do with his life. Somewhat reluctantly, on the suggestion of his sister, he applied and was hired to manage a McDonalds. There he learned valuable lessons in successfully operating a restaurant.
After a few years with McDonalds, Culver decided to embrace his entrepreneurial spirit to own his own restaurant. He approached his parents about purchasing an A&W restaurant the family had previously owned in Sauk City, WI. His father jumped at the opportunity. For the next six years, Craig and his family operated the business. In 1982, the Culver family sold the A&W restaurant one more time and purchased and operated a supper club for the next two years.
However, Culver hoped that he would someday have the opportunity to own the A&W property again. In 1984, Culver and his family purchased the A&W property and gave the building a makeover. A blue roof was added; the walls were painted white, and a sign outside read “Culver’s Frozen Custard and ButterBurgers.” After a few years of hard work and worry, the company grew by word of mouth promotion, spurred on by quality products, passionate team members and a friendly atmosphere.
There are now over 800 Culver’s franchises across 25 states and over 30,000 team members. Culver retired as CEO in 2015 but is still involved in the business as board chairman and continues to be the face and champion of the brand.