Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers: From Raising Its Own Capital to Raising the Bar in The Restaurant Industry

The road to building Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers was a long, winding, remarkable entrepreneurial adventure. No one ever thought that a restaurant serving only chicken fingers as its main course would work, especially business professors and the big guns of the banks. However, founders Todd Graves and Craig Silvey thought otherwise and went on to pursue their dream.

Graves started dreaming of his own restaurant around the early 1990’s and shared his dream with his longtime friend Silvey. Both men thought it was an incredibly good idea to build a chicken finger restaurant so they decided to write a comprehensive business plan about it and submitted it to the their professor at Louisiana State University.  The paper got the worst possible grade and was rejected several times thereafter by potential investors.

Unfazed and even more determined, Graves started to work so he can earn the right amount of money that would get his restaurant started. He took a job as a boilermaker in one of Los Angeles’ oil refineries and then transferred to Alaska where he worked as a fisherman. When he returned home, he already had enough money and was able to obtain an SBA loan, which he, along with Silvey, used to build their first restaurant at Baton Rogue, Louisiana. They named it Raising Cane’s after Graves’ pet dog. The first few days of business were incredibly busy that they had to stay open until 3 am, even when there’s another similarly-themed restaurant at the opposite end of where they were located. Their competitor eventually closed, making Raising Cane’s the only chicken finger-focused food place in Louisiana.

By 2006, the restaurant had grown to over 50 locations at Louisiana. Graves decided it was time to expand even further and started to offer franchise concepts. Today, Raising Cane’s has over 100 locations in 15 states, with plans of continuing the expansion all throughout United States and the rest of the world.

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