The New Chelsea Culver’s Getting Set to Open Its Doors
By Doug Marrin, STN Reporter
Alright, who’s ready for ButterBurgers, fries, cheese curds (all cooked fresh to order), and frozen custard?
You won’t have to wait much longer. The new Culver’s in Chelsea opens its doors to the public on December 13.
“We're looking forward to opening on December 13 and serving the great Chelsea community fresh ButterBurgers and fresh cheese curds all day long,” says Sean Carelton, one of the partners in the venture.
Sean has partnered up with Jerry Olinik to open the duo’s third Culver’s since 2018. Their first two restaurants are located in Allen Park and Taylor.
Before their Culver’s venture, Jerry and Sean amassed a wealth of fast-food restaurant experience from the ground up. Both men began as young adults with McDonald’s earning money to pay their bills and have some left over for fun. The franchise they worked for sold its stores to corporate, and the two seized the opportunity and began climbing the ladder. Sean became an Area Consultant, a liaison between franchisees and corporate. Jerry rose to Operations Manager, who oversaw a group of Area Consultants.
“We've been around for a long time, and both of us have had the challenge and the great opportunity to be exposed to a lot of restaurants and a lot of franchisees,” says Sean. “We’ve molded our business philosophy by taking the best of the best from across the industry.”
At the forefront of their philosophy is keeping in touch with their humble beginnings. Sean and Jerry remember what it was like to be an employee and keep that experience as a guiding principle in their business. Ask Sean about his business, and the first thing he wants to talk about is the people he works with.
“Everything Jerry and I do is about our people,” says Sean. “Jerry and I view ourselves as managers of internal guest satisfaction. We try every single day to make sure that our staff knows they're appreciated. They're valued, and we're right here with them. We are not hands-off.”
The proof of the ButterBurger is in the eating, and the proof of commitment to your staff is retention. Jerry and Sean acquired the Taylor store more than three years ago, and all of the team is still with them today, and many now hold key positions. That’s pretty remarkable for an industry noted for its high turnover.
“Whatever we can do to help them grow in the future, whatever goals, dreams, and aspirations they have, we’ll do whatever we can to help them achieve those,” says Sean.
The support Jerry and Sean show for their staff extends out into the community.
“We're very, very active in Taylor,” says Sean. “We're very, very active in Allen Park, and we plan to be very, very active in Chelsea.
You may have noticed Culver’s already sponsoring and taking part in a number of events around Chelsea, weeks and months before opening. Perhaps you had the chance to sample their frozen custard over the summer at Sounds & Sights on Thursday Nights. Sean and Jerry have already acquainted their managers with their charitable philosophy by involving them in a fundraiser for an elementary school in Allen Park.
Each year, the duo has given out $1,000 scholarships in Taylor High School, Allen Park High School, and St. Frances Cabrini High School. Applicants submit an essay.
Jerry explains, “What we're looking for are those kids who, just like Jerry and I, don’t exactly know what is coming next, but they are actively supporting the community in some way. Maybe they’re not sure if they’re going to college or not. We’re looking forward to getting that program going in Chelsea.”
The first Culver's opened in 1984 in Sauk City, Wisconsin, and it quickly became famous for its hamburgers — known as ButterBurgers — and frozen custard. Today, Culver's has 830 restaurants (and counting) in 25 states.
Butter burgers are hamburgers topped with butter, either directly on the patty or on the bun, which is how Culver’s does it.
Chelsea’s Culver’s is located at 1610 S Main St/M52, across from Lloyd Bridges Traveland.
“All our food is made fresh to order,” emphasizes Sean. “When you order it is when we begin making it.”
Photos: Doug Marrin