Saturday, July 11, 2009

Greasy Spoons: Raising Cane's

I don't rave about too many chains or franchises; I've been taken to Sonic and Waffle House, but when you've got diners up the wazoo they're not all that special. However, one I wish would make it north of the Mason-Dixon line is Raising Cane's, a chicken restaurant. All they make are chicken fingers! But as the adage goes, they do it well.
If you want a chicken sandwich, they'll put them on a bun for you. And you get some tasty Texas Toast and fries with your fingers, along with their signature Cane's sauce for dipping. I first had them after a night of drinking at The Chimes near LSU in Baton Rouge, and they were delicious. And this time, they were the first food I wanted when I landed in Louisiana. Sure, if we'd hit the Quarter I'd have gotten begneits or a mess of boiled crawfish, but fast food was required- and Cane's is simply the best drive-through restaurant I've been to in a long time.
Their chicken fingers are lightly breaded and extremely juicy, not greasy, and the tangy sauce compliments them perfectly. The Texas toast could be a little crispier but it's a fine side, and their fries are top notch for crinkle-cuts. About the only ones better I've had at a fast food joint are at Five Guys Burgers and Fries, and even then it's a close battle! Cane's is that good. And their story is about as entertaining as the food itself.
Working at Cane's is a rite of passage

As Firecracker told me many times, her fellow LSU alumnus Todd Graves came up with the idea for a chicken finger restaurant as a business class project, for which he received a C minus. He didn't let that deter him, and worked up in Alaska at a salmon cannery (according to Wikipedia) to raise funds to start the first restaurant. He named it after his yellow Lab Raisin' Cane, and since 1996 the place has been a hit- they have many locations, including as north as Minnesota I now see, and they made $97.3 million selling chicken fingers last year. Not bad for a C-.
I like his business model of opening near major universities, and I hope Rutgers in New Brunswick, or even Princeton makes the cut sometime. Since it's a drive-thru I can't see it at NYU, so you New Yorkers will have to rent a zipcar or something. It's worth it! Boston is a big college town, so maybe they'll be next.


Wenjotwo said...

Hello from the campus of the University of Minnesota! I work at the University and my office is a block away from Cane's.

I love the chicken for the reasons you've described. I've dragged friends and relatives who live nowhere near here to try Cane's chicken!

I have to say, New Yorkers shouldn't fret about lack of drive-thru-ness; our Cane's doesn't have a drive-thru which doesn't seem to be an issue at all.

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