Every year, millions of American celebrate Lent, the 40-day Christian observance leading up to Easter Sunday. The event is observed in the Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Roman Catholicism Churches, to name a handful. In addition to prayer, repentance of sins, and self-reflection, fasting and abstaining from certain foods is a Lenten tradition. Most commonly, observers refrain from eating meat on all Fridays that fall within Lent, often substituting meat for fish.
Since it first opened almost 20 years ago, Culver’s of Valparaiso has served as a destination for Lent observers to have a protein-packed, filling meal sans meat. With their variety of alternative options, such as fish entrees, soup, and the new offering of broccoli as a side, Culver’s makes for a fitting spot to enjoy a meal with family or friends on a Friday night, without breaking religious tradition.
Ashley Crouch and Mary Foster, general managers of Culver’s of Valparaiso, said this is why it’s one of the busiest seasons at their location, and Culver’s restaurants nationwide. Ever-popular year-round is the North Atlantic Cod Dinner or Sandwich, and the Butterfly Jumbo Shrimp. Featured especially for the Lenten season, the Northwoods Walleye Dinner or Sandwich is what Crouch described as “a hot commodity.”
Crouch and Foster said Culver’s of Valparaiso sells, on average, more than 750 fish filets on Fridays throughout Lent, and that’s not counting their butterfly shrimp.
“People choose Culver’s because we do offer so many different options during seasons like this,” Crouch said. “And because they get quality in addition to options.”
The fish filets are prepared fresh daily.
“We hand-bread new filets of fish every morning,” Crouch said. “We take the time to prepare them each day so that each time a customer orders one of our seafood items, they’re receiving a fresh meal made with care.”
Additionally, Crouch and Foster help prep the baskets the fish are served in every morning, which includes bundling hundreds of cups of tartar sauce and butter. Though the work can be tedious, the team enjoys taking it on together.
“We have so much fun working together, and that’s really what makes a difference in the quality of the food we serve, too,” Crouch said.
Beyond the warmth that the camaraderie invites, the menu items themselves elevate Culver’s above a fast food establishment and into the realm of a communal gathering spot for diners.
“You get more than just food when you come here,” Crouch said, “you get an experience. Families come here to share meals together, people have fun and unwind together.”
The mere fact that Lent is one of Culver’s busiest seasons speaks volumes to this fact. People observing their personal beliefs feel comforted in turning to the eatery for a meal, because it offers them applicable options that also happen to be delicious.
As a further testament to Culver’s of Valparaiso as a community cornerstone, the restaurant will be partnering with the local branch of the American Red Cross to raise money for its mission. Throughout March, guests can donate $1 to enter a raffle, with proceeds going to the American Red Cross. The winners of the raffle will take home a plush and adorable Curdis or Goldie. (For those not hip enough to be in the know, Curdis is the Culver’s cheese curd mascot, and Goldie is his girlfriend. You can read his blog here. You’re welcome.)
This Sunday, March 8, Culver’s of Valparaiso will be hosting an American Red Cross blood drive from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. To register, visit https://www.redcrossblood.org/give.html/find-drive and use sponsor code culversvalpo. Or, call 1-800-733-2767.
For more information about the ways Culver’s of Valparaiso enriches its community’s life, visit https://www.culvers.com/restaurants/valparaiso.