From first job to ownership – Kandace Young opens a new Culver’s

From first job to ownership – Kandace Young opens a new Culver’s

At age 16, Kandace Young went to work at Culvers, 18 years later, she is an owner! With that first job, most 16-year-olds are not thinking of one day owning the business they just went to work for. However, it wasn’t long before Kandace Young began to dream of one day owning her own Culver’s. It’s a dream that became a reality with the opening of a new Culver’s, located on Hwy. 142 and I-94 in Kenosha. Kandace recently took the time to answer our questions.

As a child where did you grow up?
Right here in Kenosha, WI.

How old were you when you started working at Culver’s?
I actually started on my sixteenth birthday in 2002. It was my first job, and the first place I applied for actually.

At the time, what were your plans when you graduated from high school?
I wanted to do something in business/marketing. I have always been drawn to that type of career .

At age 16 did you ever imagine that one day you would be in an ownership role?
I did not. But it was not long after I started at Culver’s that I had the dream of owning one.

When you started working at Culver’s, how many stores did the company have and how many states were they in?
Over 134 stores in 15 states.

For a 16 year old working at Culver’s today, how does it differ from back when you started?
Culver’s has always been true to their operations over the years so not much has changed. Some of the menu items have gone away, but our Culver’s hospitality and making sure our guests are number one is still true to this day.

Can you tell us how this ownership opportunity came to be?
Culver’s has an excellent True Blue Development Plan, that starts a new team member on the path of becoming a leader eventually a General Manager and an invitation into the mentorship program. The  mentorship program gives current GM’s the opportunity to partner with an existing Culver’s Franchise and own a restaurant with them.

What were some of the challenges you faced getting your new store opened?
With our current situation regarding COVID-19 we had to change a lot with how we prepare for opening. We usually do a VIP day at the end of training week where the family’s of my team members get to come to visit the restaurant and get a free meal. We had to cancel our ribbon cutting

How will your new store differ from the Sheridan Road and Green Bay Road Culver’s operations?
Operationally there will not be any difference.
When will you have your grand opening?
Hopefully end of June we can have a more formal Grand opening. Inviting Kenosha leadership, our community partners, family, and friends out.

What advice would you offer a young teenager just entering the job market for the first time?
To take it serious and have an open mind. You learn a lot of important life lessons in your first job. Don’t look at the restaurant business as if you can not have a life long career. You never know you might be a 16 year old kid who falls in love with a company and 18 years later opens and owns her own restaurant.

More about Kandace & Culver’s
When you visit your favorite Culver’s, and you find yourself ordering the Culver’s Double Deluxe, you’re not alone. We asked Kandace a few questions about the Culver’s menu.

What is you favorite sandwich?
The Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich
Your favorite custard flavor?
Devils Food Cake
Your favorite side item?
The cheese curds.

As for customer favorites, Kandace says anything with their dark chocolate base custard is a big hit and the Culver’s Double Deluxe is their most popular sandwich.
When Kandace started working at Culver’s in 2002, there were 134 stores in 15 states. Today, they have over 740 locations across the United States. Whether they are cooking the perfect ButterBurger to order or scooping up their freshest batch of the Flavor of the Day, they work hard to ensure you will always leave happy. It all goes back to their small-town Wisconsin roots. They know you have a lot to do and many options to choose from, so they appreciate when you take the time to visit Culver’s.
In 1984, Craig and Lea Culver, along with Craig’s parents George and Ruth, opened the very first Culver’s in the family’s beloved hometown of Sauk City, Wisconsin, and began serving ButterBurgers and Frozen Custard.
As Craig Culver always says, “We never compromise on quality.” It’s a promise that begins with sourcing the best ingredients and continues through to the way we prepare your meal: fresh, just for you.”
Hospitality has always been near and dear to their hearts. So, dining in or on the go, they make a point of treating you the way they would want to be treated.
This dedication to hospitality goes back to Craig’s mother, Ruth Culver, who had a special way about her that made every guest who visited Culver’s feel welcomed like a guest in her home.

photo caption:
Pictured above are co-owners of the newest local Culver’s restaurant, Tom Harberg and Kandace Young.  Over the next month, the 25 states Culver’s calls home will start removing restrictions and allowing dining rooms to reopen. They will continue to determine exactly what that reopening will look like, and don’t anticipate it will look exactly like their dining rooms did before. As always, their top priority remains ensuring the health of their guests, team members and communities. For that reason, each franchisee will determine when their teams are ready to reopen their doors.  While there’s nothing they would love more than welcoming you back inside their restaurants, the owner-operators may need some additional time to put precautions in place to continue limiting the spread of the virus. They are still working through the specifics, but dining rooms will be set up to enable social distancing and implement all new important safety precautions so each location can provide a safe environment for guests and team members.

(This story first appeared in the 5-21-19 issue of the Smart Reader)

Interview by Frank Carmichael
Photos by Donald Stancato