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Craig Culver, CEO and co-founder of the chain of restaurants that feature his last name, laughs as he says that he thought he was being pulled over as a police escort pulled next to his vehicle en route to Corydon to meet with local franchise owners Frank, left, and Sarah, right, Spanopolous and other Culver's employees last Wednesday morning. Photo by Alan Stewart (click for larger version)

Culver's founder gets rock-star treatment

December 18, 2013 | 09:23 AM

Chevrolet had brothers Louis and Gaston. Ford had Henry.

Culver's has Craig.

Craig Culver, the CEO and co-founder of Wisconsin-based Culver's Restaurant, was treated like a rock star last Wednesday morning as local franchise owners Frank and Sarah Spanopoulos pulled out all the stops as they try to emerge from the Final Four to win the Culver's Crew Challenge.

Each of the four finalists — the others are located in Darboy, Wis., Darien, Ill., and Mitchell, S.D. — are guaranteed $10,000; the winning site will receive $50,000. The top four sites were determined by secret shoppers, evaluations, sales and the Culver's guest feedback program.

All of the money won goes to the employees, Frank said.

After receiving a police escort, Culver was driven into a Culver's parking lot that was filled with fire trucks, police cars and ambulances, all with lights blazing and sirens blaring. As he walked inside the franchise, some members of the Corydon Central High School band let loose with their fight song, which is, appropriate enough, "On, Wisconsin."

Culver called all of the employees "winners" no matter what the outcome of the competition is, because the ultimate winners are the guests of the restaurant.

Regarding the Corydon location, Culver said he knows why the location ranks so high among the nearly 500 Culver's restaurants.

"It's the leaders. When you have good leaders like Frank and Sarah, that just trickles down to the other employees," Culver said. "We know our recipe works, but, without good leaders, it's not going to make a difference because you need good people to put the plan into action. Frank and Sarah and their team, they are what Culver's is all about."

Frank said, "We've all worked so hard to pull this day off. It started with me bribing the fire departments. 'I'll bring over a custard party to your firehouse if you bring a truck.' They said that we've done enough the past 10 years, and it's their turn to help. The police escort, I just wanted to park some cars here and make some noise. This (escort) was their idea. That's what has been amazing about this; watching the community come together."

After the pomp and circumstance, Culver went to work, delivering food in the seating area and running food outside to waiting cars.

"That's something you don't see every day," one customer joked.

In addition to welcoming Culver, the Spanopouloses took part in several interviews for a video to be shown at Culver's annual convention in February; that's when the winning store will be announced. Several members of the community were also interviewed for the video, and Lisa Long, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Harrison County, gave Culver a welcome package with various items from the area.

Twitter: @_alanstewart

  1. print email
    Town Vehicles???
    December 19, 2013 | 02:45 PM

    Okay, did Harrison County really allow the use of Police Cars, Fire Trucks and Ambulances, at the tax payers expense, the herald the arrival of some guy that owns a RESTAURANT??? Really?? Well spent tax payer money.....and we wonder why the government/county is such a mess!

    Lisa G
  2. print email
    Lighten up, Francis...
    December 20, 2013 | 04:17 PM

    Lisa G,

    Since when are a few county vehicles with lights on a tremendous expense? Are you really using this as an example of why the "country" is a mess? Hyperbole. Our county's police, fire, and rescue have been doing a great job and helping a local business gain national recognition hurts absolutely no one. Good luck to Culver's and thanks to our community service people for supporting local businesses.

  3. print email
    December 21, 2013 | 02:20 PM

    The folks at the Culvers in Corydon have done a lot for the community, including for the police and fire departments. They're good neighbors and good citizens in the community. They give so much back to this area, it's one of the reasons they're up for this award in the first place.

Barbara Shaw
Debby Broughton
Riggs Towing
Schuler Bauer Real Estate
Best Built
Alberto's Italian Restaurant
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Corydon Democrat, 301 N. Capitol Ave., Corydon, IN 47112 • 1-812-738-2211 • email