The Norman Transcript

Commerce

September 28, 2007

Raising Cane's owner talks chicken fingers

Special to The Transcript

In the nearly three years that Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers restaurant has been in Norman, the franchise has only seen increased interest and increased business, says the founder, chairman and owner, Todd Graves.

Graves was in Norman Thursday visiting the only Oklahoma Raising Cane's location -- 12th Avenue and Alameda Street -- and took time to talk about his 11-year-old, Baton Rouge, La.-based restaurant chain.

After Graves took time to talk to the restaurant staff, and his friendly dog Raising Cane II, after which the restaurant was named, he sat down to tell The Norman Transcript why his chicken fingers only concept has been so successful.

"We produce cooked-to-order, high quality meals," he said, noting that chicken fingers have proven to be a top seller at fast-casual restaurants.

"Cane," the dog, meanwhile proudly sported an OU bandana and munched on some buttered Texas toast. Cane accompanies Graves everywhere and appeared right at home in the Norman store.

Graves, who calls fans of his restaurant, "Caniacs," said the concept for the chicken fingers-only restaurant didn't seem to have a chance. But he still believed it could work.

So, when he first proposed his idea in a college business course at Louisiana State University, his professor didn't think a chicken fingers only enterprise would fly. As a matter of fact, Graves said he received a C minus for his business concept.

But these days Graves said he visits LSU business classes and tells them how his idea has worked since the first one opened adjacent to the entrance of LSU's main campus after working hard to the raise money.

"We call that original location "the mothership," said a grinning Graves.

These days Graves said he receives 100 franchise requests a week and, so far, has Raising Cane's Chicken Finger restaurants all over Louisiana as well as Minnesota out to Virginia and back west to Colorado.

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Commerce