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Founder of Culver's restaurant chain dies

July 9, 2011 at 12:59 PM

SAUK CITY, Wis., July 9 (UPI) -- George Culver, who built a frozen custard stand in Sauk City, Wis., into a chain of more than 400 restaurants, has died. He was 88.

Culver died Thursday at Sauk Prairie Hospital, the Sauk Prairie Eagle reported.

In 1961, Culver and his wife, Ruth, got into the restaurant business when they bought an A & W root beer stand in Sauk City. The couple and their son, Craig, and daughter-in-law, Lea, opened the first Culver's at the location in 1984.

The franchise began three years later when someone asked them if he could open another Culver's in a nearby town. The Culvers made such a loose deal with him that he was able to walk away when he lost interest in the business, but they learned from that experience and moved on.

Culver's now has 435 restaurants in 19 states, mostly in the Midwest. The chain is known for its Butter Burgers.

"I don't think George will be remembered for his hamburgers as much as he will for being an ambassador for the area," Jim Anderson, president of the Sauk City Village Board, said.

The family donated the original headquarters of Culver Franchising System Inc. to the village of Prairie du Sac after Ruth Culver's death in 2008. It is to reopen as a public library named in her honor later this year.

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