BAXTER -- People braved a cold wind Tuesday and huddled in a tent for the ground breaking ceremony for Culver's restaurant in Baxter.
Dignitaries from Brainerd and Baxter attended the ceremony holding cider and coffee cups as hand warmers as much as beverages. The event was hosted by franchise owners Bea and Mark Liedl, Breezy Point.
Craig Culver, president of Culver's restaurant chain, flew in for the event. Culver's is headquartered in Prairie du Sac, Wis. Attendees speculated Culver may have switched from a Green Bay Packers hat to the Vikings cap when he crossed the Wisconsin/Minnesota border.
Culver's restaurants have experienced considerable growth. The chain is just shy of opening 50 restaurants this year for a total of about 200 Culver's by year's end. There are now about 186 Culver's locations with about 30 in Minnesota.
Culver said one of the franchise strengths comes from local owners. And he said the lakes are location offers a core residential base of about 25,000 that is augmented by tourism that floods the area.
"I think we are going to do very well here," Culver said. "... You have a lot of good things going for you. You don't get all those things at every location."
Culver said he loves the restaurant's niche they created almost 19 years ago and one that was finally categorized as a coined term "fast casual" by the restaurant industry.
"It's been wonderful for us," Culver said. "It's the fastest growing segment of our industry."
Culver's site work in front of Menards and next to Applebee's has begun. The restaurant is expected to open in February.
The restaurant, known for its Butterburgers and custard, which refers more to premium ice cream with higher butterfat content, is expected to employ 60 to 70.
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