BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County residents with uncontrollable cravings for butter burgers, cheese curds and fresh-made frozen custard, rejoice. Culver’s has arrived.
The popular chain opened at 12337 Cortez Blvd. Dec. 17 with a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony attending by scores of residents, county and chamber of commerce officials and local organizations like the FFA. For some of those waiting in line outside, it was like a homecoming.
Sarah Egan is a former resident of Wisconsin, where Culver's got its start in 1984 with the opening of the first restaurant by Craig and Lea Culver, along with Craig’s parents George and Ruth.
“We love it,” said Egan, of Brooksville. “One of my boys was born in Wisconsin and our favorite is the cheese curds and chicken fingers; you could say we’ve lived on cheese curds and custard for a while.”
Customers love the menu, said Nate Drury, owner-operator of the new Culver’s, but there’s a lot more that makes the restaurant so popular.
“It’s a good brand you can believe in,” said Drury, who was a Culver’s employee in Wisconsin before joining with business partners to get his own store in Hernando. “It’s like family and that carries over into the way we treat our customers.”
The hospitality can be traced back to a tradition started by Ruth Culver, who made sure everyone who came to Culver’s felt welcome. To this day Culver’s team members make sure doors are held open and diners are asked how they are enjoying their meal.
Andy Moye, of Hernando Beach, knew of the Culver’s reputation but had never tried it until the grand opening.
“I’ve heard about it — how wonderful the frozen custard ice cream is,” she said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Drury, who moved to Hernando four months ago, said he loves the community, the people and the weather.
“We’re glad we left our snow shovels and ice scrapers behind,” he said.
Drury said he always knew he’d be opening his own restaurant in Florida, which has more Culver’s restaurants than any other state, with 55. He has contacted local organizations since arriving and already has pledged to help the local Little League fund the reopening of batting cages.
“The community has been awesome,” said Drury of the welcoming he’s received.
He’s also pleased with the enthusiasm he’s seen from his new employees. The restaurant has a staff of 75, and all are very enthusiastic and happy to be “part of the Culver’s family.”
“They want to be there,” Drury said. “They’re happy, giving each other high-fives and there are smiles on their faces.”
Drury said about 20 of the new employees are high school students, and he believes Culver’s is one of the best first jobs a young person could hope for because it is such a “positive and friendly environment.”