And of course, you’d be correct. I’m not a chain restaurant guy, much less someone who eats any kind of fast food more than once a month (or less), so how is it that I’m about to rave about Culver’s, the 500+-unit, Wisconsin-based chain that has an extremely popular location right here off S.R. 56?
Because Culver’s really shouldn’t be called “fast food,” other than the fact that this growing chain, which has 45 locations in Florida, does usually deliver your food to your car or their comfortable indoor seating area within 5-7 minutes or so.
In fact, Culver’s of Wesley Chapel franchise owners Ann and Marty Roeske don’t refer to their second Culver’s (they also purchased one of the first 100 or so units of the chain in 2000 in Wautoma, WI, near where they lived,; that location is now operated by their children) as fast food at all.
“It’s cooked-to-order food that is served quickly,” says Marty. “The company is always finding new ways to cook the food faster, but will never sacrifice the quality that the families who love us have come to expect.”
Ann adds, “If a family from Wisconsin comes here to visit, if their sandwiches or cheese curds or frozen custard don’t taste exactly the same to them as they do where they’re from, we’re not doing our jobs.”
That’s why Craig and Lea Culver — who opened the first Culver’s in Sauk City, WI, in 1984 (along with their parents, George & Ruth) — insist that all Culver’s franchise owners have to be on-site, hands-on owner-operators who also must be properly trained to ensure that the quality that has made Culver’s famous in 22 states (and growing), especially throughout the Midwest and Rocky Mountain regions, as well as the Southeast, Texas and Arizona, always stays consistent.
More Than Just Burgers!
When I first heard Culver’s was opening in our area (the location on Nebraska Ave. at Bearss Ave. opened a year or so before the Wesley Chapel restaurant), I couldn’t figure out why so many Midwest transplants were so excited about it.
I was thinking, “OK, so it’s another burger place,” even though I’ll admit that I’m always excited about anyplace that serves authentic frozen custard — which is like your favorite ice cream, only creamier…sort of a delicious cross between soft-serve and “hard pack.”
But, while Culver’s “Butter Burgers” (no, they don’t make the burger with butter, it’s the bun that’s buttered, according to Marty) are delicious — they’re certainly better and fresher (Ann says Culver’s 100-percent Midwestern beef is never frozen) than most fast food burgers — I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Culver’s other sandwiches and menu items.
My favorite, for sure, is the beef pot roast sandwich, which seems to be the only “brisket” served in this area that isn’t barbecued/smoked. This premium chuck roast is as tender as my mom’s brisket, slow-braised in a classic blend of herbs and spices and is served in those juices on Culver’s signature bun (which absorbs them nicely). You can enjoy this tasty “sammy” with Culver’s horseradish or BBQ sauce, although it honestly doesn’t need any sauce at all.
I also really enjoyed trying Culver’s North Atlantic Cod fish sandwich and the chicken noodle soup (both shown in the photo, right), as well as the crispy chicken sandwich and tenders. I’ve never tried Culver’s grilled chicken sandwich, but I liked the flavor of the grilled chicken on the Garden Fresco salad and the sesame ginger dressing. I’m not the biggest chili lover, but “George’s Chili” is thick with meat and very tasty.
And of course, Culver’s recently added Wisconsin cheddar cheese dipping sauce and also is famous for its crispy, crinkle-cut fries. Plus, if you mention Culver’s crisp-outside, creamy-inside fried cheese curds to any former “Cheesehead,” they immediately start writing love sonnets set to music about them. Seriously.
All that having been said, the main reason I keep going back to Culver’s isn’t because of those items or the fact it’s a mile from where I live, it’s because of the frozen custard, a dessert I have enjoyed since the first time I visited the Boardwalk in Atlantic City in my teens. Every time I see Culver’s post a new flavor on their board on S.R. 56 mentioning Reese’s, Snickers, marshmallow or, say, the Oreo cheesecake custard on the previous page, I find myself detouring for a cup or cone, usually a cup and usually with Culver’s deep, delicious real hot fudge.
Just another fast food place? I think not!
Culver’s of Wesley Chapel is located at 2303 Sun Vista Dr., Lutz. For more info, including a great gift card special, see the ad on pg. 40, call (813) 949-1414 or visit Culvers.com. And, please tell Ann, Marty and their always-friendly, happy and courteous staff that the Wesley Chapel Neighborhood News sent you!