New Ravenswood Culver's location opened by largest African American franchise owner

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The wait is over. Monday, fans of Culver's around Ravenswood and Lincoln Square got their wish.

"I saw the sign and I said, 'Is that Culver's? No? Yes! Finally, we have one in the city,'" said Maria Paulette.

"I really love the French fries and the ice cream," added Maggie Allen.

"It used to be so far, so I'm really excited to have it more often," said Lily Allen.

Monday morning's grand opening included a visit from co-founder Craig Culver.

"The butter burger goes better with a "Please and a thank you" and a smile. That's genuine that goes a long way," Culver said.

However, the opening of this restaurant makes Baron Waller the largest African American franchise owner of Culver's.

The Chicagoan went from IT consultant to franchise owner a few years after visiting his first Culver's.

"[I] walk into that Culver's, and that service and how they treated us, it inspired me and made me think -- maybe I should do that," Waller said.

In addition to this restaurant, Waller now has three Culver's in the suburbs, with another opening in Pullman. His first Chicago restaurant was in Bronzeville, where that restaurant had encouraged more business and as a result, more jobs for people in the neighborhood.

"I wanted to make sure there was a Black owner of this restaurant and if I could do it, they could do it too," Waller said.

Waller plans to open another Chicago restaurant at some point, although that location is still to be determined. In the meantime, he's hiring managers at the Pullman location.

Among those working in Ravenswood are Waller's now teenage sons who accompanied their dad to that inspirational Culver's years ago.
Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.