Long before Fran "Auntie Fran" Gervais was an employee at Culver’s in Valparaiso, she was a guest like every other diner in the restaurant.
“As a guest, I would go into Culver’s with my friends on Wednesdays,” she said.
After a game of bowling with her senior bowling group, they would make their way to 2101 LaPorte Avenue to enjoy a ButterBurger, cup of custard, or cold drink. To Gervais, however, the treat of Culver’s was much more than just the food and drinks.
“Every time I went in there, everyone was so friendly, and I just liked the environment, so I applied,” Gervais said. “I missed working with people.”
Gervais was previously a nurse for 27 years before retiring. She contemplated working again when she became a frequent customer at Culver’s because of the fun atmosphere. In 2021, she decided to take the leap and apply.
“I got hired,” Gervais said. “They worked with me and my bowling schedule.”
One thing Gervais noticed was how accommodating management was with her and other employee's schedules. She said that most employees were high school or college students, so management understood their busy schedules.
This, in part, is why Gervais chose Culver’s: the people she works with.
“What I enjoy most is the people. My fellow employees are so kind, and everyone seems to be upbeat,” she said.
Gervais also enjoys the customers because of their excitement at Culver’s. As she describes it, going to the restaurant is like “a day out.”
“Guests come in happy,” Gervais said. “Especially the kids, since we offer the kid’s meal and they get a free custard.”
Some families and children who frequent the restaurant even call Gervais “Auntie Fran.”
Community involvement also contributes to Gervais’s enjoyment of working at the restaurant. Since the establishment hosts many community events, she gets to see familiar faces even more often.
“We do Share Nights, where part of the proceeds go to the community or whatever Culver’s is sponsoring,” Gervais said. “We also offer a Kids Night, which has a theme. The employees dress up, and they have games and sometimes balloon animals.”
Gervais noted that another reason Culver’s is her favorite is because everything is made fresh. Burgers and sandwiches are also offered anyway the customer would like in terms of toppings and cooking time.
“That’s not offered at a lot of fast food restaurants in the area,” she said.
Gervais’s responsibilities inside the restaurant include working at the register, monitoring the dining room, and running to-go orders. She is learning a few new things around the establishment too, like making and serving custard. In addition to all of her daily tasks, what she looks forward to most is working in the public again.
“I just like talking to people. I missed that when I retired. It gives me a chance to have small, frequent interactions and conversations with people about things going on in Valparaiso.”
To learn more about Gervais and Culver’s in Valparaiso, visit its website here.