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Butterburger, Anyone? Find out why fast-food newcomer Culver's is overcoming consumers' initial reactions.

By Todd D. Maddocks

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Elizabeth and Ashley, my 9-and 12-year-old daughters, wereadamant: "Butterburgers? That's gross, Daddy." Therewas no way they were going to ride with me for an hour, each way,to try a restaurant featuring frozen custard and Butterburgers. Iexpected this objection as I, too, had imagined a cold stick ofbutter sandwiched between two buns, but reviewing new concepts ispart of Daddy's career.

I explained to my daughters that we were going to a Culver'sFrozen Custard, a somewhat upscale fast-food restaurant, becauseit's part of a young franchise chain experiencing phenomenalgrowth in the upper Midwest. In fact, it's the No. 1 custardfranchise-- No. 175 overall--in Entrepreneur's 1999Franchise 500®. We were headed to one of only three locationsin Texas. Although Culver's has more than 55 locations inWisconsin, I couldn't see how the concept could survive inTexas with an unknown name and limited marketing impact. Then wetasted our first Butterburgers.

Wow! That's the only word for it. The people at Culver'sknow how to make a burger. By using fresh ground chuck that'sleaner than the beef used by many other fast-food chains andputting it on a buttered, toasted bun, Culver's made one of thebest burgers I've ever had. The girls were ecstatic as theyslurped away at the custard flavor of the day, made fresh at thestore. The fries were tasty and the servers delivered our meal toour table. I didn't think it possible, but Culver's hasredefined quality in fast food.

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