PULLMAN — Baron Waller broke ground on his latest Culver’s franchise on a chilly Tuesday morning, promising to bring Pullman its first standalone restaurant in more than three decades.
Waller was joined by the Wisconsin chain’s co-founder, Craig Culver, as well as Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) and other neighborhood leaders as work began at the site at 111th Street and Doty Avenue.
Waller and business partner Ronald Wells were enticed to the site with a $250,000 grant from the city’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund, which is intended to bring investment to the neighborhoods by charging developers more to build Downtown.
The restaurant is also a product of behind-the-scenes work done by Beale and Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, a nonprofit working to bring businesses to Pullman, Roseland and other under-resourced areas.
“Thanks to the Culver’s team, our community development partner CNI and the city of Chicago, we have brought all the pieces together at the right time to move closer to what the community has long had a ‘taste for:’ a new Culver’s,” Beale said Tuesday.
This will be the second Culver’s location in Chicago for Waller and Wells. They own the Bronzeville location and are working on a location on Montrose. Waller also owns three Culver’s locations in the southwest suburbs.
Waller said it was 14 years ago when he first set foot in the Culver’s in suburban Lansing and got to experience the hospitality that Culver’s prides itself on.
“I went to visit my brother in the suburbs one day and we visited this place called Culver’s, and we walked in … and they brought a high chair for my son, and they told us to sit down. ‘We’ll take care of you guys.’ They did everything for us,” Waller said.
During the groundbreaking, Beale highlighted the many Black entrepreneurs who will play a role in the building and managing of Culver’s.
The establishment will be next to the One Eleven Food Hall that includes other dining options: Lexington Betty Smokehouse, Majani Soulful Vegan Cuisine and Potbelly’s.
Craig Culver said the location will create about 80 jobs.
“One of things I’m so proud of is that Culver’s in the last 36 years has developed and helped people along the way,” Culver said. “People that we call mentees. And our job is mentoring these people that started with us when they were 50, 60 or 16 years old and have grown their careers with us and today they’re owners of our restaurants.”
The restaurant will have 124 seats, patio seating and a drive-thru lane and window. It’s scheduled to open in the spring.
The groundbreaking comes a day before the ribbon cutting for an Amazon distribution center located in the location previously occupied by Ryerson Steel near 104th Street and Woodlawn Avenue.