Two months after it served the biggest crowd in Culver’s 694-location history, the Bloomington Culver's had its ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday.
“I am the seventh franchisee to attempt to open a Culver’s in Bloomington,” owner John Laskowski said to the crowd. “The others decided it wasn’t the right time or couldn’t make it happen, but we finally got one up and running.”
Laskowski said business has been too busy these first two months to have the ribbon-cutting ceremony, but now he and his employees could celebrate. He began the ceremony with a prayer, and then he and Mayor John Hamilton gave speeches inside. Craig Culver, the original franchisee’s son, attended.
“It took a while,” Laskowski said to the crowd. He teared up. “But it’s open and it’s doing well.”
Hamilton said he was proud of everyone who got the restaurant running.
“We want to welcome you home with this place,” Hamilton said to Laskowski, who is originally from South Bend.
Hamilton said the Bloomington Culver’s had the fourth-highest number of customers this past weekend, out of its 694 locations.
George and Ruth Culver started the Culver’s franchise in 1984 in Sauk City, Wisconsin. Their son, Craig Culver, made the trip from Wisconsin to Bloomington for the ceremony. This was his first time seeing the new restaurant.
“There’s a really good vibe here,” Culver said. “You can feel the energy.”
Culver said Laskowski reached out to him about opening a restaurant in Bloomington, and he could tell Laskowski was passionate about it.
“I was a Culver’s-holic,” Laskowski said. “The first time I had it was in Sheboygan, and I thought, ‘What in the world is a ButterBurger and frozen custard?’”
After the ceremony, the group went outside at 9:30 a.m. for the official ribbon-cutting with the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce. Employees gathered around John Laskowski, his wife Alice, and their son Scott, the location’s general manager.
The father and son cut the ribbon, commemorating Culver’s success in its first two months.
When the ceremony wrapped up, employees and families celebrated with a blue-and-white Culver’s cake and frozen custard. One of the celebration participants was Adam Long, an artist who painted a mural titled “Through the Heartland” on a large brick wall in the Culver’s parking lot.
“Originally, we didn’t want a wall to be there,” Scott Laskowski said. “But the city said we needed one to separate the parking lot from the forest area. So I thought, ‘There’s got to be some reason for this.’”
Scott Laskowski contacted Long after seeing some of his artwork on Facebook, and Long was happy to take the job. The main focus of the mural is a blue barn that says, “Thank you farmers.” It stands among other farm images and wildlife to represent Culver’s roots, along with Bloomington staples, like the quarry.
The mural took 65 hours to complete, and was revealed for the first time as a finished product at the ceremony.
“I’ve met some friends for life within the Culver’s community,” Long said.
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