Chazz Welch stands in front of the Johnson Creek Culver’s location.

JOHNSON CREEK — Early in the morning, Chazz Welch was stationed behind the counter ready to help the first customers of the day.

For the last decade he’s been working at the Culver’s location in Johnson Creek — first as an employee making fries, now as the franchise owner.

Proving that hard work pays off one customer at a time.

“I am the true Culver’s success story,” Welch said.

That dedication to making a customer’s experience the best is something he even has seen founder Craig Culver do, running food out to waiting patrons.

“I’m grabbing brooms, dust pans,” he said.

And with restaurants across the nation struggling to find help, Welch is trying to create an atmosphere where his team enjoys their job.

And now he is trying to get them some national recognition but needs his customers’ help.

As part of the Culver’s operation, there is a challenge between the 813 locations around the nation as to who has the best service. And recently Welch said they hit bronze status this year, placing in the top 350.

But they have a bigger goal in mind.

The next goal is Silver, he said, placing them in the Top 35.

“And that would be an awesome achievement, Welch said.

And there is even Gold, with the top location receiving $50,000 and the next five locations getting $12,500.

The team, he said, splits the money.

“I don’t want a dime,” he said. “It’s about the pride. We work hard every day.

“Silver would show that we set goals in the restaurant, and getting an award for it would be rewarding,” he added.

And the feeling he would derive?

“Goal accomplished,” Welch stated.

For customers, the best way to help a location is to fill out customer surveys, or even write a personal letter about their experience.

Customers have done that, he said, and feel like family.

Welch became general manager at the location in 2018 and franchisee owner on Jan. 1 of this year.

Like restaurants across the nation, finding workers during the pandemic has been a challenge. But Welch said if you create a family atmosphere, people will want to work there and stay.

The goal, he says, is to show others that this is more than a job. There is a career opportunity here.

“It’s not all about the pay,” he said. “It’s about that work-life balance.”

His goal also would be to expand to more locations.

One of the perks of being in charge of a location is to help select the flavor of the day. From classic flavors on Fridays to his favorite, Georgia Peach, the location rotates 30 flavors.

To advance in the Culver’s challenge, they also have to have a secret shopper come in — and that could be any time of the day.

“Shows we have to provide the hospitality to everyone who comes in,” Welch said.

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