Popular Wisconsin Based Fast Food Chain Has Two Charleston Area Locations
By: Jeff Walker, Restaurant Review
In the world of fast-food hungry types primarily have four basic food groups to choose from, i.e. burgers, pizza, chicken, and tacos, with burgers being the perennial fast food front runner. Among the four big name burger chains (you know who they are) there has been very little change over the past 60 years, and for any newcomer to make their way they most certainly have to set themselves apart.
That’s precisely what Craig and Lea Culver, along with Craig’s parents George and Ruth did back in 1984. Together from their hometown of Sauk City, Wisconsin the foursome introduced America to Culver’s butterburgers alongside their cool and creamy signature frozen custard. More than 35 years later Culver’s operates over 900 locations in 26 states including two in the greater Summerville / Ladson area.
Thriving off Craig’s original promise ‘Every guest who chooses Culver’s leaves happy’ the company has become one of the fastest growing and most respected franchises in food and beverage according to Forbes Magazine. To top it off Culver’s has become the 4th highest favorite among millennials, a list that includes Chick-Fila. Safe to say, Culver’s is forging their way in the fast-food industry.
With the burger giants competing with each other at every corner, what sets Culver’s apart? The answer is easy. Quality, service, cleanliness, and overall ambiance. Much like Chick-Fila, Culver’s is a contemporary eatery with an old school vibe. They thrive on hospitality from the moment you order until the time you walk out the door.
Enough about their un-paralleled approach in the business world, it’s their burgers and frozen custard that keep diners coming back over and over again. Currently they offer seven signature burgers served on a lightly toasted buttered bun. Get a single, double, or triple Butter Burger with cheese. Their Mushroom & Swiss is a double patty teeming with sauteed mushrooms and two layers of Swiss. It’s double yummy!
Want something different. Try the Wisconsin Swiss Melt or the Sourdough Melt, nicely positioned on sourdough bread. Culver’s caters to multiple health habits offering diners Rotella gluten free buns. No matter whether you select your burger on their signature butter buns, sourdough, or gluten free option, you’ll get a hand-crafted made to order (never frozen or pre-made) seared burger that is incredibly juicy and 100% beef.
While they have a variety of butterburgers, Culver’s offers several sandwiches, seafood platters, sandwiches, soups and salads. Consider them a casual fast food burger place serving up heart healthy alternatives while thinking outside the box. How many burger joints under the fast-food umbrella offer five signature salads (some seasonal). The answer is little or next to none.
Their Chicken Cashew Salad with Grilled Chicken or the Cranberry Bacon Bleu Salad with Grilled Chicken come overflowing respectively with fresh crispy greens, grape tomatoes, cool cucumbers, dried cranberries, and cheddar or bleu cheese, all surrounded by a generous helping of sliced grilled chicken breasts. Not in the mood for a burger, trust me the salads will equally tickle your fancy.
Want to hear something even crazier, Culver’s has 10 (count ’em) different soups on their menu. Maybe it doesn’t get that cold in the south, but hearty soups are a nice substitute on a raw day, or if you just want something different for a change. George’s Chili is another family creation perfectly seasoned with all the right ingredients including celery, along with a secret blend of peppery spices. Enjoy a culinary trip to New England with Culver’s rich and creamy Boston Clam Chowder. Soups vary throughout the year.
The list goes on and on for what Culver’s is recognized for. Their classic, premium, and signature snackable sides include their famous Wisconsin Cheese, Chili Cheese Fries, and my personal favorite the Pretzel Bites with Wisconsin Cheddar Cheese Sauce. By far the best pop in your mouth snack on the menu. Not to be outdone, Culver’s makes their cole slaw fresh daily, and even serves up real deal Mashed Potatoes & Gravy made from Russet potatoes. All ideal stand-ins for their hot and crispy crinkle cut fries. Food for thought!
Here’s a nice twist you don’t get at many other places. Maybe you want a burger, but your better half wants a Grilled Chicken Sandwich or a Butterfly Jumbo Shrimp Dinner. Prepare to have your mind blown. Culver’s serves up several seafood baskets as well as hand battered North Atlantic Cod Filet Sandwich topped with a family recipe tartar sauce served on a lightly buttered, toasted hoagie roll.
Okay butterburgers are the marquee attraction but make no mistake their frozen custard concoctions including shakes, malts, and sundaes, deserve equal billing. Rich, creamy, extra thick ice cold (the kind that give you brain freeze) delights in your favorite flavors as well as Raspberry Malt (made w/ real raspberries), Peanut Butter, and every southerner’s new fav Salted Caramel.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention their ‘Flavor of the Day’. A bazillion or closer to four dozen and counting flavors Culver’s skillfully craft out of their custards using dozens of flavors and toppings. How cool is it to sink your teeth and gums into Midnight Toffee, Oreo Cheesecake, Strawberry Chocolate Parfait, or Dark Chocolate Decadence. The taste sensations are off the charts and can be accessed via Amazon Alexa.
Alongside Pepsi products, Culver’s serve up a mean home-made root beer, made even more refreshing with a scoop of vanilla custard. Yummy to the max!!
Make no mistake Culver’s is first and foremost known for their butterburgers and frozen custard, but their menu suggests they are a combination neighborhood diner, Dairy Queen, and community picnic all rolled up into one. Local franchise owner Marilyn Knox likes to say Culver’s is ‘the Chick-Fila of burgers’, and she’s not wrong. Tableside service, friendly staff, clean dining room, and food that looks like it does on the menu mirror Chick Fila’s success.
There are hundreds of places to get a burger throughout greater Charleston. The behemoths have burger joints every few miles, and if you’re looking for the same run of the mill tired dried out ‘where’s the beef’ burgers than any of those will do. However, if you want a juicy, eye appealing burger made fresh by someone who cares than I recommend Culver’s. Consider Culver’s an ideal combination of a neighborhood diner, backyard picnic, and a Dairy Queen all rolled into a casual fast-food restaurant.
Here’s one added bonus for light eaters or seniors on a budget, much like Sue did when she visited recently. Order the Kid’s Meal which comes complete with the original butterburger, fries or applesauce, and your choice of plain or chocolate milk, apple juice or fountain drink. Hey, we all know you don’t have to be young to enjoy a kid’s meal, you just have to be young at heart! Sue was so thrilled to enjoy a meal under $7 she posted her experience on Facebook to her senior friends!
If you live or work anywhere in Summerville on the Moncks Corner (exit 199) side off 1-26 that includes Sangaree, College Park, Nexton, and Carnes Crossroads than their original low country location is at 1904 N Main St (17A) near College Park Road. For burger lovers in Ladson close to Oakbrook, Miles Jamison Road, and the Palmetto Commerce Parkway industrial complex you’ll be happy to know Culver’s opened a second location recently at 3848 Ladson Road next to Heritage Holiness Church. They offer a nice, covered patio for enjoying open air dining.
Come hungry and as Craig says, ‘leave with a smile’. Seniors receive 5% off with military getting 10% off the menu price. Culver’s partners with local charities and schools for fundraising opportunities. To discover more about Culver’s and peruse their tantalizing menu visit their website at https://www.culvers.com/restaurants/summerville-sc-n-main-st or https://www.culvers.com/restaurants/ladson-sc-ladson
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