Fried chicken and french fries have been an American staple for decades – It is something children continuously crave, adults seek as a guilty pleasure, and even when it’s not great, it seemingly still hits the spot. In the landscape of fast food, fried chicken remains one of the most competitive spaces. Most will remember the fried chicken sandwich wars of a few years ago, pitting Popeyes against Chick-Fil-A, and then going on to include KFC, McDonald’s, and over 20 other major fast-food brands. According to Edison Trends, online ordering of fried chicken sandwiches increased 420% between January 2019 and December 2020. (Edison Trends) So how does one relatively new chicken tender and french fry chain stand out among the competition? I am of course, talking about Raising Canes, the beloved joint from Louisiana, that seems to have everyone, especially Gen Z, demanding more chicken tenders.
Earlier this October, Raising Canes and Post Malone opened a Dallas Cowboys themed restaurant, completely designed by Post Malone himself. Post is a massive fan of the restaurant, so much so, that he brought a food truck to his house for a party, eventually prompting this partnership. What can customers expect from this new collaboration? First, customers will notice a 32-foot-tall Dallas Cowboys star outside. Inside, there are silhouettes of Post on stage and endless Cowboys memorabilia. Customers can order a "Posty meal", which includes four chicken fingers, fries, two sauces, two toasts, and extra salt and pepper with a half unsweetened tea and half lemonade in a 32-ounce Post Malone collectors cup. Despite Cane’s dominance in the Dallas area, with 65 restaurants, this location will continue to draw tremendous attention across the country. It also happens to be conveniently 20 minutes from the airport, with the plan to attract a ton of locals and tourists alike. (QSR)
This type of outside-the-box restaurant design is nothing new to Canes. It is actually Post Malone’s second location where he had full design authority, the first being a location near his house in Midvale, Utah. That location has an exterior completely in solid pink with tattoo imagery, including pink floors, walls, and even Post Malone outfits on the inside. Todd Graves, the founder of Raising Canes, says people come through the Salt Lake City airport just to visit that specific location. You can also find a Posty Meal, including the signature collectors cup, at this location. (Restaurant Business)
Raising Cane’s opened their flagship location in Times Square in June of this year, an 8,000 square foot restaurant in the first real attempt to gain global recognition. Again, this location was unique, notably including a statue of their mascot dressed as the statue of liberty, Texas toast-shaped couches, and sauce-shaped tables. Unsurprisingly, the grand opening was met with lines around the block, something Canes has become quite used to. People tend to wait for hours, quite happily, when a Canes opens a new location. Canes fans are truly unique in their love and devotion to the brand. (Restaurant Business)
In 2016, the chicken finger chain had $500 million in sales, 290 locations, and $2 million in average unit volume. Despite the pandemic, Canes finished 2021 with $2.37 billion in sales, 567 locations, and $4.9 million in AUV. As of Q2 2023, Canes’ annual top line is roughly $3.5 billion. (QSR)
The goal from Graves and Co-CEO AJ Kumaran is incredibly clear - $10 billion in sales and 1,500 locations. For reference, there are only seven restaurant brands in America that clear that financial mark: McDonald’s, Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, Dunkin, and Burger King. (QSR) In a popular survey called “Taking Stock with Teens” from Piper Sandler, Raising Canes was a new addition to teenager's top restaurant chain, taking a 3% share of wallet among U.S. teens, a remarkable sign of what is to come. (Restaurant Business) Given their exponential growth in the last decade, I would not be surprised to see it become one of the 10 largest chains by the end of this decade. They are doing things a little differently, and the results have been truly staggering. In this age where there is so much content and striving for attention, restaurant popularity goes far beyond cuisine and food quality. And Raising Canes, even among the long-standing oligarchy that is global fast food, has found creative ways to assert themselves as a force to be reckoned with for decades to come.