The Culver’s Restaurant Story - View the video

Craig Culver

Craig Culver
Co-founder and CEO
Culver's Restaurants

1240 Water Street
Prairie du Sac, WI 53578


Career Clusters / Help Topics:

  • Business Management and Administration
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Hospitality and Tourism
  • Marketing

The Culver’s story begins in Neenah, Wisconsin, where George and Ruth Culver welcomed Craig into the world. Craig, his brother Curt, and sister Georgia, grew up immersed in the restaurant business. The family owned and operated supper clubs and eateries throughout the Sauk County area. Craig’s parents first purchased an A&W Root Beer property in Sauk City in 1961 and sold it in 1968, the year Craig graduated from high school. While they didn’t know it at the time this site would one day provide fertile ground for the Culver family’s ultimate success. In 1968, his parents purchased the Farm Kitchen resort at Devil’s Lake. Craig worked there during his college breaks and summers. It was there he met his beloved Lea (Weiss). They married in 1975 and over time became the proud parents of three daughters. Craig graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1973 with a Biology Degree but wasn’t really sure of what he wanted to do with his life. His interest ultimately returned to the restaurant business. Over the next several years Craig worked at McDonalds, took a shot at running his own restaurant, and ultimately went back to help run restaurants owned by his father and mother. In 1984, the Culver family had a chance to purchase the same Sauk City A&W property it owned almost 20 years before. They jumped at the chance to return to their roots. On that site on July 18, 1984, the first Culver’s Frozen Custard and ButterBurger restaurant opened for business. The first successful franchised restaurant opened in 1990. In years that followed, a speckling of new restaurants opened throughout Wisconsin and then expanded beyond the state line. In an effort to support the growing restaurant chain, Culver Franchising System, Inc. (CFSI) was created. The goal of CFSI is to ensure that franchise growth coincides with proper training, education, along with personal and professional growth. Today the Culver’s restaurant chain spans 440 restaurants in 19 states. The Culver family is proud to call Sauk County home. It is a place connected to the farms that produce the dairy and grow the food that has made Culver’s a family favorite nationwide.

Culver’s restaurant co-founder and CEO Craig Culver has built his career by following the credo to “do the right thing” for guests, team members, business relations and the community. From his early work in his family’s eateries to the creation of the “ButterBurger,” Craig will tell his story of how he got into the restaurant business and the influence his parents had on him. He’ll also discuss some of the challenges and lessons learned as he began to build the Culver’s restaurant chain which now spans 440 restaurants in 19 states. He’ll also have some advice for students planning their careers. (Running Time 22:55)