The co-owner of the upcoming Logan location of the restaurant chain Culver’s says this isn’t just another fast food joint.
“We feel Culver’s is at the top of the fast food industry,” Spencer Young said. “You’ll hear others say their food is ‘made to order,’ but that is kind of a false advertisement because it’s already cooked and they are just assembling it. We ‘cook to order.’”
Young said the Culver’s, on the corner of 1400 North and 200 East, will officially open its doors to the public at 10 a.m. Dec. 9. Store hours will be 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, including weekends.
Young said one thing that sets Culver’s apart is that they don’t start cooking a guest’s food until they have ordered at the register — the kitchens don’t even have warming racks. Because his goal is to serve customers within 3-4 minutes, Young said that prepping food fresh takes a lot more work.
“In the fast food world this is really different,” Young said, “Your fries are cooked fresh and all of our meat is fresh; it’s never frozen. Our custard is made fresh and in small batches throughout the day. Our cod is hand-battered right when it is ordered, and that takes 3-4 minutes to cook in itself. It’s quite impressive to see our kitchen and how much we are doing there in the time that we do it. I think people take for granted how fast fast food is. “
In order to meet the greater workload, Culver’s must employ more than the national average amount of workers. According to statisa.com, the average number of employees it took to run a fast food restaurant in 2018 was 15. Young and his co-owner father, Mark Young, are planning to hire 75 “team members” with pay above the minimum wage.
“We try to create a great environment for people to work in,” Spencer said. “We recognize that we’re most people’s first jobs. … In this industry, the turnover rate is typically less than six months. Culver’s is closer to over a year.”
Long before Spencer started running Culver’s restaurants, he was learning the trade from his father, who had owned McDonald’s franchises throughout Utah for 30 years.
“I had thought that I, too, was going to run McDonald’s,” Spencer said, “but my dad ended up getting out of McDonald’s and into Culver’s. … Even before he got out of McDonald’s, he had fallen in love with the Culver’s brand.”
About eight years ago, Mark Young was asked by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to serve as a mission president in Eugene, Oregon, for three years. Some franchises require operators to be present and heavily involved in day-to-day operations, which meant that Mark would have to sell his restaurants in order to accept the Church assignment, which he did.
Before leaving, Mark took Spencer to Wisconsin to meet with Craig Culver and other heads of the franchise in Sauk City, Wisconsin, where the first Culver’s was founded in 1984.
Spencer was just finishing up his business administration degree at Dixie State University at the time. After graduating, Spencer and his wife, Rachel, moved to Wisconsin for four months in order to complete the Culver’s approval and training process.
“During the first week of training,” Spencer said, “there are extensive interviews with the entire corporate team. They watch you in the restaurant that week. It’s six days a week and 12-hour days.”
After completing the Culver’s training, Spencer returned to Utah and for the next two years worked as a regular employee at the Lehi Culver’s in order to learn the trade.
In 2015, Spencer opened his first Culver’s in Orem. Spencer said he and his father chose Logan as a second location because Cache Valley, like Wisconsin, is dairy country and has family-oriented business values. But building and opening a Culver’s in Logan has not been without its challenges.
“One challenge has been that the city is expanding the intersection (at 200 East and 1400 North) so they have had to take some of the property for their intersection,” Spencer said. “They’ve been good to work with us on that, but that was definitely a hurdle because it took more time and our property shrank.”
Spencer said that because Logan restaurants open very strongly he plans on being up in Logan several days a week. Corporate leaders will also come out to help with the store opening and then later reduce their franchise visits to four times a year “to maintain brand standards.”