Perhaps you’ve heard the big news about Custard Cup and its star-studded new ownership team, and their plans to start slinging custard again by May 7.
We had a chance to talk to investor Tom Siegel, a University of Illinois alumnus who put together the group that submitted the winning bid, about what we really need to know about this Champaign food icon reopening.
Their top goal, in the early days ahead? It might surprise you.
“I think there’s a huge burden on me and the team that we don’t screw it up,” Siegel said in a phone interview Sunday night. “The last thing we want to do is come in and be disruptive to what (Doug and Christy Jarling) have been doing and keeping customers happy for so long.”
Your burning questions about Custard Cup answered, thanks to spokesman Tom Siegel:
When will it be open? Noon to 10 p.m., daily, starting May 7.
Will the drive-thru be open? Yes!
What will change? For the time being, not much other than a few tweaks. Expect Custard Cup to be as you remembered, from the menu items to the building to the prices, Siegel said. One thing the new owners want to change sooner than later? How long it takes to get customers their food. “We definitely want people to get served faster,” Siegel said. “We may not have that in place on Day One, but it’s definitely something we’ll be working on.”
Did the new owners buy the recipe? The recipe is part of the assets purchased by the new ownership group. “We are permitting the Danville location to continue to use the recipe. But the recipe is owned by us,” Siegel said.
Will we see the new celebrity owners serving customers or making appearances? Yes, said Siegel, some more than others depending on where they live; all have family still in the area. The investors include several former Illini players and coaches, including Kurt Kittner (former Illini/NFL football player), Tony Pashos (former Illini/NFL football player), Ron Turner (former Illini head football coach who now is at Florida International University), and Bruce Weber (former Illini head basketball coach now at Kansas State). Appearances have yet to be scheduled.
How long will the season be? Much longer than in years past, Siegel guarantees. And, he more hinted that Custard Cup may transition to a year-round business before long. “We will definitely have a longer season, if we do shut down at all in the winter,” Siegel said. The reason for the delayed opening? The Jarlings wanted the new owners to start fresh and be able to open the shop, Siegel said.
Will we see more locations in the future? Although nothing is imminent, there’s no question the new ownership group has a vision for Custard Cup that goes beyond the one shop on Kirby Avenue in Champaign. “We just want to get through the transition and have a dynamite 2016 season. We want to grow from a foundation of stability, ” Siegel said. “… There could be expansion opportunities within Champaign-Urbana. We’ll be looking at both, within the area as well as outside of the area.”
Is Tom Hanks, a self-proclaimed Custard Cup fan, one of the 10 investors? No. “I think everyone is disappointed that it’s Tom SIEGEL,” he said with a laugh.
Are jobs available? YES. Immediate openings exist for managers and hourly crew members. If interested, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.