ButterBurgers and frozen custard are the latest additions to Auburn’s fast food scene after the Wisconsin-based franchise Culver’s opened its doors on East University Drive adjacent to the Auburn Mall on Monday.
“The first day has gone great,” said Ty Lewis, owner and operator of the new Auburn location, the second branch of the burger joint to take hold in east Alabama after Phenix City. “The team is amazing, (and) the city, the guests and everybody have been really fantastic for opening day.”
Every Culver’s location features a “custard of the day,” and the Auburn location opened offering up the franchise’s Turtle flavor, which Lewis said is a vanilla custard with chocolate, caramel and pecan pieces. Tomorrow, the restaurant will serve its Georgia Peach flavored custard.
“With the warm weather and that light fruit flavor, it should be delicious,” Lewis said.
The franchise’s staple ButterBurgers — hamburgers with a butter topping on the bun — have been the best-selling food item opening day, but Lewis said the restaurant’s menu offers variety for those seeking other options.
“We’ve got anything from fish to chicken sandwiches and chicken tenders, pot roasts and Reubens,” he said. “It’s not just the burgers; we’ve kind of got everything going on to offer a variety to a lot of different people.”
Lewis has been employed with Culver’s since 2009 and had served as general manager of a location in Bloomington, Ill., for four years before moving to Auburn in April. He said he’s enjoyed the “close, tight-knit feeling” he believes characterizes the Auburn-Opelika area.
“We knew that we really liked this area in general — eastern Alabama and Georgia — and we were given a couple options to … buy some property, and we really liked Auburn once we were presented this opportunity,” Lewis said. “We think that we’re in a really prime location to serve both the Opelika and Auburn communities. Being right here centered in between the two is perfect for us and perfect for the area.”
Lewis said the restaurant opened with about 40-50 employees the first day and has hired about 70-75 staff total. He said staffing challenges were a concern in the months leading up to opening day, but he is confident the location will retain its staff in the weeks ahead.
“We spent a lot of time trying to get some full staff in here, and I was blessed to come up with the people that we did,” he said. “Not just the amount of people, but the quality of people that we’ve got working for us already. We’re constantly looking for more people to do the same.”
The restaurant is still hiring with salaries for part-time positions starting at $11 an hour and full-time positions at $12 an hour, according to Lewis.