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Blog Network

jCarbonara
Joe Carbonara

What Foodservice Can Learn from the Cubs Winning Streak

As I write this, my beloved Chicago Cubs are enjoying an unprecedented renaissance under groovy manager Joe Maddon. As a lifelong Cubs fan, decades of shattered hopes remind me to enjoy the moment and not worry about what comes next. But what amazes me about this team is not so much that they are winning but how they are winning. And it strikes me that their success this summer contains a few lessons applicable to the foodservice industry.

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jMartinez
Juan Martinez

Insights to Growing a Brand

Consultant Juan Martinez explores the intricacies associated with balancing hospitality and unit economics when it comes to restaurant development and design.

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jStiegler
Jerry Stiegler

This Week in Foodservice: RPI Up Along with GDP, Labor Market Tightens and Much More

The Restaurant Performance Index chalked up a solid gain in July and operators continued to invest in equipment. GDP was up 3.7 percent in the second quarter. As the economy improves, operators find the labor market tightening. A study finds independent hamburger restaurants grew faster than the chains. These stories and a whole lot more This Week In Foodservice.

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Highlights

Chain Innovators: Culver’s Frozen Custard and ButterBurgers

A Midwest staple, Culver's has spread its wings in recent years to cover 19 states. Its basic formula — friendly, fast-casual service; burgers grilled to order, home-style dinners and frozen custard — has put this small-town company in the ring with much larger competitors.

CulversAs the company passes the 400-unit mark it plans for aggressive growth. To that end, Culver's has launched a major dining room re-imaging program. "It's not that we think what we have now is broken, but to be positioned properly for the next 10 to 15 years we need to make some changes," says Phil Keiser, president.

Culver's new look and feel features more earth tones, new tabletops, different woods, flooring and fabrics. Condiment and beverage stations have been repositioned and the dining rooms have been rearranged to make groups more comfortable. One version the chain is testing includes a kitchen that's 10 percent smaller and re-engineered to be more efficient, Keiser says.

On the menu, Culvers stays fresh with a steady stream of limited time offers and new product introductions, recent examples of which include sweet potato fries, Strawberry Fields salad, walleye dinners and a mini version of the chain's popular Concrete Mixer frozen custard treats. A "Mindful Choices" menu guides guests to meal choices that come in at less than 500 calories, and Culver's SnackPacks provide value-priced options. "As we grow, we have an opportunity to do a better job of articulating who we are and what we do. That's what it's about," says Keiser.

Fast Facts

  • Year founded: 1984
  • Headquarters: Prairie du Sac, Wis.
  • Menu specialties: Fresh frozen custard and fresh ButterBurgers®, home-style dinners, specialty sandwiches and desserts, entrée salads
  • Service model: Fast-casual, drive through
  • Units: More than 400 in 19 states (98 percent franchised)
  • 2010 sales: $689 million
  • 2010 growth: 5 percent increase in revenue and 3 percent growth in units
  • Projected 2011 growth: 9 percent growth in revenue and 5 percent unit growth
  • Key expansion markets: All 19 states where units currently operate, plus North Carolina, South Carolina, Arkansas, Idaho
  • Typical location: Freestanding restaurant
  • Average unit size: 3,800 sq. ft.
  • Average kitchen space: 1,587 sq. ft.
  • Average covers per day per unit: 550
  • Average check: $8.15
  • Total equipment investment per unit: $400,000–$475,000

Key Players:

  • Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer: Craig Culver
  • President: Phil Keiser
  • Vice President-Supply Chain: Donette Beattie
  • Director of Research & Menu Development: Jim Doak
  • Director of Non-Foods Supply Chain: Mark Nachreiner
  • Manager, Equipment & Design: Vern Young
  • Foodservice Equipment Consolidator: The Boelter Companies – Jeff Reinhardt
  • Foodservice Smallwares & Re-Supply: The Boelter Companies – Paul Burgoyne
  • Primary Food Distributors: Gordon Food Service, Sysco 
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