Talking shop with the Geis family of Culver's

Monday, October 24, 2011
Owners of Culver’s in Cape Girardeau, from left, Rick, Barb and Aaron Geis. (Laura Simon)

The Geis family loved going to Culver's in their hometown of Fond du Lac, Wis. In fact, there are three Culver's in Fond du Lac, not far from where the restaurant chain got its start in Sauk City, Wis.

When Rick Geis decided he was ready for a career change, he along with his wife Barb and their son Aaron, decided to move to Cape Girardeau to open a Culver's here and share the food they loved with a new market.

Q: What makes Culver's different from other fast-food restaurants?

A: Aaron Geis: We're sort of a throwback to the way that things should be done. We cook everything to order here. We're all about authenticity and genuineness. Whether it's the people we have working here, to the cleanliness to the quality of our food to the value our food has. We're not as expensive as a nice sit-down restaurant, but we're also not as inexpensive as some of our competition. We're right in the middle. That's the niche we see ourselves developing and growing into.

Rick Geis: We take a unique approach to our business. Our primary goal is to make Cape and Jackson even better communities than they are already. So our first goal is to be an excellent-run business. Good businesses make good communities. For our employees, we want our business to be an excellent, safe, interesting place to work. Our daily goal is to be the friendliest, cleanest restaurant possible. We care about making our food as delicious and as quickly as we can.

Q: What's your favorite menu item at Culver's?

A: Aaron Geis: I love our butterburger deluxe, no pickles. That's my favorite sandwich.

Rick Geis: I have an unusual one, I love our fried chicken. That's another thing that sets us apart from other fast-food restaurants is our dinners.

Barb Geis: For sandwiches, it's the butterburger deluxe. For dinners, it would be the beef pot roast.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges of owning your own business?

A: Rick Geis: Hiring the right people. In a Culver's it's even more critical, I think, because of our reputation and our standards.

Q: What's rewarding about owning your own business?

A: Aaron Geis: It's the people again. Everything from our team members who work behind the counter to our three or four dozen ultrafans we have who come in two or three times a week. We know those people by name and we know what they're going to order before they walk into the door. We get to have a whole new community, a whole new family of people we interact with.

Q: What's it like working together as a family every day?

A: Aaron Geis: It's actually easier because we're able to discuss things outside of work. We're able to get a lot accomplished when we're all together. We live in the same neighborhood, so I don't mind going home for dinner once in a while. My mom can cook pretty well.

Barb Geis: We stay together, we do.

Q: Why is giving back to the community so important to you and what local causes do you support through Culver's?

A: Rick Geis: An important aspect of owning your own business is being involved in the community and making the community a better place. Special Olympics is near and dear to our heart. We have a special needs individual that works in our store. Every lunch, Monday through Friday in the dining room. That's been really nice and really rewarding. We do a lot of fundraising for parochial and public schools. That's helpful and rewarding.

Q: Tell me about your background before moving to Cape Girardeau to open Culver's in 2007.

A: Rick Geis: For five years, I worked for the federal government. Then for 18 years I ran a construction company. I just wanted to do something completely different and I thought this would be fun.

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