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Culver’s® Restaurants, Inc.

Surprise, AZ
Outdoor Lighting

In an effort to improve parking lot lighting performance and save energy, this popular franchise installed Cree® LED luminaires at their newest location.



Culver’s® was founded in Wisconsin in 1984 and now includes more than 400 franchised restaurants in 17 states. Made famous by its butterburgers and custard, restaurant locations continue to spread throughout the country.

A new franchise owned and operated by partners Rob Bullock, Brian Farrell and Zachary Schaefer is located in Surprise, Arizona, about 45 minutes outside of Phoenix. The restaurant opened in March 2009 and is located in a newly-developed area with a residential neighborhood across the street and no streetlights near the restaurant or on the service road that leads to it.


The team installed Cree Edge™ area lights in the parking lot after learning about them from their general contractor, McCon Building Corporation, who offered them as an alternative at the request of Culver’s®. Culver’s® doesn’t require its franchise owners to install LED lights but the partners selected them as a long-term business investment in the building that they wholly own.


Typically a quick-serve restaurant LED installation like this one will realize a payback in five years or less from energy and maintenance savings. A quicker payback can be realized if rebates are available through a local utility company. According to Chris McGuire, president at McCon Building Corporation, the Cree LED luminaire photometrics work very well for the surrounding community: “We haven’t heard any complaints from residents that the light is too bright so we feel good about the fact that it isn’t obtrusive.

“Since it’s dark in the surrounding area, it’s nice to have our lot well lit to serve our guests and know we’re saving energy at the same time. We’re so pleased with the lights that we’re installing them at our second newly-constructed Culver’s on Camelback Road in Phoenix.”

Tom Williams, director of design services at Culver Franchising System, Inc., looked for ways to cut energy consumption at franchise locations. He saw a Cree LED luminaire demonstration six months before it was available at a lighting show and watched LED solutions develop for a number of years before thoroughly vetting the opportunity. “We looked at the total cost of ownership, not just the initial cost,” said Williams. “After we conducted energy and maintenance savings calculations, we began encouraging our franchise owners to install Cree lights. It’s an option now but I hope that it becomes a standard.”