Murf’s Frozen Custard & Jumbo Burgers in Waukesha closed today, after nearly three decades.
Jerry Murphy, who has been involved in the custard business for 39 years, opened the Murf’s Waukesha location in 1993.
Murphy got his start in custard as a high schooler working for Kopp’s Frozen Custard in the ’80s. While he was in college, Murphy helped open Freddy’s Frozen Custard in Mequon. He later opened his first Murf’s operation in Waukesha and eventually purchased Freddy’s, which he owned from 1994 to 1999.
Murphy then sold Freddy’s and opened Murf’s Frozen Custard & Jumbo Burgers in Brookfield, which is still in operation today. He said the sale of his Waukesha location was “carefully orchestrated,” adding that he wanted to simplify his operation and the timing was right.
“It was just time to sell, we had a good long run, great community support,” Murphy said. “And to be honest with you, right now is a great time to sell a drive-thru restaurant because COVID can’t shut you down in a drive-thru.”
Murphy said he has a buyer for the Waukesha location who will likely stay in the custard business because of the location’s high volume of sales.
“I can’t reveal it now because it’s in the works, but it’s being sold,” Murphy said. “I’m sure the next people will follow the same type of business because it was really successful there.”
During the pandemic, Murf’s in Waukesha had been drive-thru only, with the Brookfield location offering carryout as the only option for its customers. In fact, the Brookfield location has more business than last year, Murphy added.
“So, I feel very lucky about that,” Murphy said. “It’s very disappointing that other folks in the restaurant business aren’t doing well. It’s tough to watch.”
Just as Murphy started off working for a custard business before eventually owning his own, former Murf’s employees have followed in his footsteps, he said.
“If you’re in the business, the great part is the people,” Murphy said. “I’ve had some great people work for me and sharp enough to go into the business for themselves, which is always great to see.”