DeKALB – Larry Bollinger still remembers riding his motorcycle with his wife almost 30 years ago from DeKalb to Sauk City, Wisconsin, to a little-known restaurant called Culver’s.
It was the first location of Culver’s for the franchise, which has since grown to more than 450 family-owned restaurants across 19 states, according to its website. Bollinger was eating Monday at the newest Culver’s location in DeKalb, 1262 W. Lincoln Highway.
“It’s kind of nostalgic,” he said.
Monday marked the first day of business for the DeKalb location. Culver’s also has a location in Sycamore, 1200 DeKalb Avenue. The owner of the DeKalb location hopes his restaurant will attract Northern Illinois University students as well as community members.
The DeKalb Culver’s has a drive-thru and extended hours of 10 a.m. to midnight daily in hopes of enticing NIU students. The restaurant’s 85 employees are also considering staying open later during weekends when sports games are being held on campus, said owner Jeff Newkirk.
“We are trying to be a good place for the students, everyone from NIU, and the DeKalb community,” Newkirk said. “We’ll do everything we can to make them happy and be a good host.”
NIU sophomore Alexander Mazurek was eating a Wisconsin Swiss Melt on Monday with a friend.
Mazurek, 20, knew Culver’s was opening Monday because he lives in an apartment within walking distance of the restaurant.
Mazurek said he thinks Culver’s will be able to compete with other fast-food restaurants in the area because they offer more variety, and their food has better quality than other fast-food places, he said.
“I plan on coming here once a week, maybe once every other week,” he said. “I’m glad they opened here. Last year, I didn’t go [to the Sycamore location] because it wasn’t within walking distance.”
Brent Bollinger was eating at Culver’s with his father, Larry. Brent Bollinger said he didn’t know the building for Culver’s existed until Saturday, when he was giving a friend a tour of DeKalb.
Culver’s is a mix between a classic fast-food restaurant and sit-down restaurant, Brent Bollinger said.
“You have the benefit of getting food rapidly and sitting down and having the food brought to you,” he said. “It’s pretty fresh.”