Couple plans to build Culver's near NIU

DeKalb – ButterBurgers and frozen custard could come to DeKalb late this summer.

Jeff and Marcia Newkirk of Plano plan to open a Culver's at 1262 W. Lincoln Highway. The old Fiesta Cancun restaurant building on the property will be replaced with the new fast-food restaurant with seating for 102 guests. The owners expect to hire five managers as well as 50 to 70 part-time employees to work at the Wisconsin-based franchise.

"Culver's seemed like the best franchise to own, and our son has worked at the Culver's in Yorkville for six years," Marcia said. "We really feel good about Culver's."

Ideally, they would like to open Aug. 1, but Marcia said the city's process for issuing a special use permit could cause a delay.

The Newkirks have applied for a special use permits to allow them to have a drive-thru and Culver's signs. They will make a presentation before the city's Planing and Zoning Commission on Wednesday.

The permitting process could take another two months, including commission and DeKalb City Council approval, said Derek Hiland, DeKalb's principal planner. Following approval, the couple could proceed with construction.

The couple planned an April 16 groundbreaking, which Marcia said would be pushed back if their special use permit request doesn't appear before the city council for approval until April.

It usually takes three to four months from the time construction starts to the restaurant opening, according to Paul Pitas, Culver's director of public relations and communications.

Jeff Dobie, owner of Fatty's Pub and Grille at 1312 W. Lincoln Highway, owns the 76,000-square-foot property the Newkirks plan to buy a piece of. Dobie has been using the space for extra parking. The Culver's would take up 1.19 acres, leaving Dobie some room for overflow.

Dobie said the new restaurant would be a welcome addition to an area that sees an abundance of traffic, including out of town visitors to the area for Northern Illinois football games or graduations.

“It's a great idea,” Dobie said. “This side of town has been ignored for far too long and with it not being a [tax-increment finance] district, you have to do things on your own.”

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