If you’re on the “eat local” bandwagon, consider what might otherwise escape you – supporting locally-owned franchises. Many of our Rochester chain restaurants are locally owned and operated, and give as much back to the community as their non-chain brethren.
First think of the obvious: hundreds of local jobs are provided at these establishments. Then consider what happens behind the scenes – a plethora of non-profit enterprises supported through charitable giving. And of course let’s not forget, these business owners are your neighbors; they shop at our stores, their kids go to our schools, and they recreate in the same places the rest of us recreate.
“We belong to this community too,” says Kasie Scheel, co-owner of two Rochester Culver’s with her husband Jeremy. The couple live in Pine Island with their son, Simon, and are proud to call the community home. “We love Rochester and the communities that surround it,” says Kasie.
Or take Bob Yanish, owner of both Rochester Perkins restaurants, who recently poured $400,000 into the local economy with his remodeling of the north Perkins restaurant. All of those monies went to local contractors, Yanish says, and the undertaking was financially backed locally, too, by Olmsted National Bank. Next up for remodeling is the south Perkins, when more money will be plunged into the local economy.
Perkins and other locally-owned chain restaurants also support scores of local non-profits with fundraiser donations, coupons and free meals. Annually, they donate tens of thousands of dollars through various means.
And that’s saying nothing about their food and drink. These establishments serve reliably stellar meals time and time again, and provide you with go-to places for outstanding eats.
At Culver’s, favorites are the Butterburgers and Frozen Custard. Butterburgers are fresh, never frozen, beef patties on a lightly buttered bun, and always made to order. The Frozen Custard is premium ice cream made fresh throughout the day. Pair the two and you’ve got taste bud perfection. Plan to spend roughly $10 per person here on your meals.
Customers are often surprised to learn Culver’s is locally owned, Kasie Scheel says, and even more surprised when she or Jeremy is spotted wearing an “owner” name tag after flipping burgers in the kitchen, wiping down tables in the dining room or planting flowers outside. Yes, folks, these people toil for us. “That’s the great thing about Culver’s,” says Kasie. “We do whatever it takes.”
Dunn Brothers Coffee
You really can’t get more local than Dunn Brothers – owner Dennis Wong and his three kids all graduated from Mayo High School. Dennis and wife Lynn support a variety of Rochester non-profits, and confess to having a “soft spot” for kid-focused organizations, Lynn says, such as schools, Parent Teacher Associations, and other children-related activities.
They also donate boxed lunches to Habit for Humanity, and coffee for a variety of local events, including those hosted by Channel One Regional Food Bank, Walk MS and the Rochester Public Library.
When it comes to its menu, Dunn Bros, as it’s known, is well-regarded for its coffee, roasted daily, its made fresh daily pastries, and its organic, locally sourced eggs for breakfast dishes, served all day. It also serves as a community gathering spot for friends, meetings, Bible studies and other small groups who desire a place to get together.
Perkins Restaurant and Bakery
Bob Yanish moved to Rochester in 1989, and met and married wife Bunny while working at Perkins. Since then, the two have become renowned local philanthropists, supporting a variety of local charities through volunteerism, board of director posts and gifts of goods and money, including organizations like the Salvation Army Rochester and Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge. Generous Rochester residents, the couple recently instituted a wildly popular Pie Society Monday, where the order of any entree on a Monday gets you a free slice of pie.
Perkins hasn’t altered its time-tested, popular pancake recipe since 1958, Bob Yanish says, and is regularly voted as having Rochester’s Best Breakfast by various media outlets. Kids eat free on Tuesday and Saturday nights, making this a family pleasing destination.
Yanish says regular customers know Perkins is locally owned, but might be surprised to learn that he often partners with the Joe Powers (of Canadian Honker and Powers Ventures fame) family to support local causes. “Competitors with the same values can collaborate and not only be successful themselves, but can really do awesome things for the community,” Yanish says. “There’s enough business for everyone to be successful.”