Blue Spoon Café
The Blue Spoon Café at 2831 Parmenter St. in Middleton opened in 2008 as a potential prototype for a more upscale restaurant for the Culver’s Frozen Custard parent company.

Middleton’s Blue Spoon Café closed Sunday, potentially ending an expansion into casual dining by Culver’s Frozen Custard chain’s parent company.

Culver Franchising System president Phil Keiser said there are no plans to shutter the original Blue Spoon in Prairie du Sac. That restaurant recently expanded.

“The Middleton location just didn’t make it financially,” Keiser said. “We gave it a good fight. We were there a couple years and (general manager) Mike (Boss) did a great job operating the restaurant. At the end of the day, it was just a financial decision.”

The two-level restaurant at 2831 Parmenter St. had about 30 employees, Keiser said. Some took other positions in the company and others received a severance, he said.

“We’re disappointed,” Keiser said. “Closing something is not part of our culture.”

There are more than 400 Culver’s Frozen Custard restaurants throughout the U.S., and Keiser said nine have opened this year.

The Middleton Blue Spoon opened in September 2007, almost seven years after the company opened the first one in Prairie du Sac.

At the time, Keiser said the Blue Spoon in Prairie du Sac was doing well and the Culver’s company wanted to open another one in a different community to see how it would perform. The Blue Spoon in Middleton had a slightly different menu than its Prairie du Sac sibling and was full-service as opposed to the Prairie du Sac location’s limited service.

“That location is on the river. There are some elements to it you just can’t duplicate,” Keiser said.

Keiser said a combination of factors led to the Middleton location underperforming, including lack of parking and bad timing. Casual dining — midrange, sit-down establishments such as the Blue Spoon — was the segment of the restaurant industry hit hardest by the recession.

“We had some very loyal followers at the Blue Spoon in Middleton, but just not enough of them,” Keiser said.

He said it’s too early to say what the closure of the Middleton location means for the café’s potential as an eventual franchise.

— Jeremiah Tucker of the Sauk Prairie Eagle and State Journal reporter Jane Burns contributed to this story.

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