MIDDLEBURG – A Culver’s Restaurant – a Midwest eatery known for custard and cheese curds – is looking to expand into Middleburg.
According to Sophie Lichte, who is training to become the manager of the Wisconsin-based chain in Clay County, her parents, Don and Lori Lichte, are finalizing a deal to open the restaurant near Blanding Boulevard and the First Coast Expressway.
“It just seems like Culver’s would fit in with that area,” Lichte said.
She said her family hopes to finalize buying the lot by November and start construction by the end of the year.
“If everything went perfectly with no interruptions, it would take 24 weeks for construction,” Lichte said.
There are about 50 Culver’s in Florida, but few in Northeast Florida. Paul Pitas, Culver’s director of public relations and communication, said the company plans on 10 restaurants near Jacksonville in next five years.
Culver’s was founded in 1984 and is based in Prairie du Sac, Wisc. and there are 673 Culver’s restaurants in the U.S.
The Middleburg restaurant, a “medium-sized” at 4,400 square feet, Lichte said, can seat about 135 guests inside and on the patio combined. She said Culver’s plans on hiring 65-70 full-time and part-time employees and will be open seven days a week, from 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
“Culver’s is a huge part of your community,” Lichte said. “Every small town has a Culver’s. It’s where you go after your games in high school and stuff and where you hang out.”
Lichte said her family will invest $3 million in Clay County, it costs $350,000 to qualify for franchisee status alone. She said he family wants to own multiple Culver’s franchises in Northeast Florida.
“My family, if everything works out, is hoping to open a couple more restaurants in the next five years,” Lichte said. “It would be more like two not 10, which is more of the company goal in the area.”