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The Story Behind Raising Canes Restaurant

If you’re a fan of chicken fingers, chances are you’ve heard of Raising Canes. From humble beginnings to becoming a national household name for chicken fingers, Rising Canes is dedicated to serving up the best chicken fingers in town, and they’ve done it with flair!

From the custom chicken fingers sauces to the mouth-watering side dishes, Raising Canes has something for everyone. Curious to find out how this restaurant came to be? Read on to learn the story behind Raising Canes Chicken Fingers Restaurant!

The Story Behind Raising Canes:

Raising canes chicken fingers restaurant may not sound like the most conventional business idea, but that’s exactly what the founders of the restaurant decided to do.

In fact, when the first Raising Canes opened in 1996 in Louisiana, there were just a handful of employees working behind the scenes! The original Raising Canes location was located in Baton Rouge.

Background of Raising Canes

It all started with a goal Todd Graves (founder) had in college of opening a restaurant that served chicken finger meals and nothing else. To make his vision a reality, Todd developed a business plan and presented it to his professor. Ironically, his plan got the lowest marks in the class. 

A restaurant serving only chicken fingers in South Louisiana would never work, were the words of his professor. 

However, Todd didn’t give up. He took his plan to numerous bankers but to no avail. Anyone at this point would’ve given up and moved to something else, but not Todd. He stayed persistent. 

The Struggle of the Founder – Todd Graves:

After countless bankers rejected his idea, Todd decided to save up the money himself. He moved to California to work for an Oil Refinery. From there, he moved to Alaska to work in a dangerous field of catching salmon. 

In a 2013 interview, Graves shared that he put long hours in the oil refinery and used to pull 90-hour weeks as a boilermaker. When he moved to Alaska, he used to spend 20 hours on the board fishing for sockeye salmon. 

How Raising Canes Got Started:

After saving up enough money, Graves returned to Louisiana, took out an SBA loan, and started the restaurant. At first, he decided to name it Sockeye’s Chicken Fingers because he spent so much time catching that type of fish that he just decided to name the eatery after it. 

However, one of his friends spoke up and convinced him to change the name to something more personal and close to him, like his dog, and that’s when it got the name; Raising Cane.  

The First Raising Canes Location – The Mothership:

The first Raising Cane location ever to serve chicken fingers was and still is on Highland Road in Baton Rouge. It started in the mid-90s when Todd and his small crew set up shop in a former bakery at the entrance of the Louisiana State University. 

During the place’s reconstruction, the crew discovered a mural on the wall that was actually the logo for the bakery, which also inspired the logo for Raising Canes. This mural is also the reason why every Raising Cane location has the logo somewhere on the wall as if it’s just been discovered. 

With over 500 locations around the world, the first site is referred to as The Mothership, which means the founding ship of the whole Raising Cane’s ships.

How Did it Turn Out?

Raising Canes was a hit right from the beginning. The first location, the Mothership, opened on August 28th, 1996, and customers walked in immediately. It was opened till 3.30 a.m. that day and kept serving till this time for several days after that. Even though all locations close early today, the Mothership still closes at 3.30 a.m. from Thursday through Saturday. 

With more than 500 restaurants in 27 U.S. states and five countries, Raising Canes is continuously climbing. They’ve received countless awards. This includes the Best Chicken Tenders from The Fasties — a fast food awards show started by Thrillist.

The funny thing is, no one believed the idea, not his business professor, his peers, or even the number-crunching bankers, but the same idea was a massive success right from day 1. In fact, Raising canes also won an award for having the Most Loyal Guests in Techonomic’s 2018 Consumers’ Choice Awards.  

Parting Words:

Entrepreneurs, what do you think of the story so far?

It’s amazing how a small idea can create a prosperous business. Don’t underestimate your ideas just because they are new and different from others. You just need to have faith in your product or service, be authentic, and watch it grow exponentially. For Raising Canes Chicken, following these steps led to its success within no time at all!


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