Culver’s founder shares labor, supply chain concerns

The founder of a restaurant chain says he’s seeing the effects of the labor shortage at many levels.

Craig Culver founded Culver’s Restaurants, and he tells Brownfield he supports finding a legal pathway for more foreign workers to enter the U.S. “For the farmers as well. They hire a lot of immigrants. I know they do, and we do, too. Especially in the cities, we do and we couldn’t open the doors without them. There has to be a legal path for immigrants to come into the United States.”

And Culver says it’s not just the restaurant industry that needs help. “I serve on a bank board, and one of the discussions just the other day was a very good farmer getting rid of his dairy herd, and he’s going to go beef. He just doesn’t have enough labor to operate the dairy operation.”

Culver also says supply chain issues are impacting everyone, including restaurants. He tells Brownfield their 845 Culver’s Restaurants have had to make some adjustments to get some of the items they need. “Simple things like that. Straws, napkins, our bags that we use, on and on and on and on. Things I never dreamt of. I thought, you know, as we got larger and larger, it would always be easier to source things but that’s not always the case.”

Culver says they have four processors that supply fresh beef, and there have been challenges. He says customers are seeing prices go up significantly in restaurants because of supply chain and labor issues.

“We’ve had shortages, and generally when there’s a shortage, guess what else is going on? There’s going to be a price change and that price change, it doesn’t mean they’re going down, the price is going up.”

Culver says they’ve even had to temporarily change how they buy ketchup. “We switched to those dippable packets several years ago and our customers really do like them. Heinz has plenty of ketchup. They just don’t have that particular packaging to put the ketchup in, so, we’ll get there.”

Culver says the most important thing has been communicating with suppliers so they know what will be needed to serve both their existing Culver’s sites and future locations.

Culver spoke to Brownfield during the recent Dairy Strong conference.

Craig Culver discusses supply chain and labor issues with Brownfield’s Larry Lee at the 2022 Dairy Strong conference.

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