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.
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.