The Valley Loves Raising Cane’s Recipe of Fresh Fried Chicken Sprinkled With Fun
On its opening day, the staff at Raising Cane’s are whooping and hollering. It is part of the work culture at Fresno’s latest quick-serve chicken location.
The national chicken chain has rapidly expanded in the Valley. Tuesday’s opening in north Fresno (7507 N. Blackstone Ave. at the southwest corner of El Paso Avenue) is the fifth since last July. Other locations include Tulare, Visalia, Hanford, and Clovis.
Chris Zygler, Raising Cane’s regional leader, said the openings are by popular demand.
“People are familiar because they’ve gone down to Los Angeles or maybe gotten Raising Cane’s out in Vegas. So people really wanted us to bring it to the Valley, and we did,” Zygler said. “Once we identify there’s Caniacs — there’s also almost 750,000 people between Fresno and Clovis — there’s plenty of population and support for Raising Cane’s.”
Watch: The Secrets to Raising Cane’s Success
The new restaurant is at a location formerly occupied by a Logan’s Roadhouse. Zygler says they tore down the building and built a new one at a cost of $8 million. It includes a double-lane drive-thru and a double kitchen — to serve both in-store and the drive-thru.
The Fresno location employs 200 people and 14 managers. The closing time is 2 a.m. on weekdays and later on weekends. Zygler says the extended hours are to serve overnight workers and first responders.
A company official says another Fresno location could open by the end of the year.
One Dimensional Menu Item
Raising Cane’s keeps its menu simple. The only main item is chicken fingers. Even the sides are limited to crinkle-cut fries, coleslaw, and Texas toast.
“We just do one thing, do it really well. Our chicken is never frozen. It’s always served fresh. We marinate our chicken for 24 hours prior to serving it. And then pretty much when you order it, we drop it hot and fresh directly into the fryer,” Zygler said. “We are not big for change. We have the mantra that if it’s not broke, then don’t fix it.”
A single chicken finger sells for $1.59. Combo meals range from $8.69 for three fingers (with fries, Texas toast, and a drink) to six fingers for $14.59. A two-piece kids meal is $5.49.
Even the sandwich combo ($8.69) is just three fingers in a bun.
As part of a St. Patrick’s Day promotion, Raising Cane’s is serving green lemonade.
Most of the chicken comes from Foster Farms in Fresno.
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You Might See Elvis
A portrait of Elvis Presley hangs in a corner of the Fresno store.
“Elvis is one of my favorite elements in the restaurant, so we have a velvet Elvis, which is hand-painted and it is unique to every single Raising Cane’s. Our founder wanted to cover a hole in the wall at our first Raising Cane’s and used an Elvis towel and a frame to do it. And that was our first velvet Elvis, and now we have a velvet Elvis as a tribute to that and every Raising Cane’s,” Zygler said.
There is a Fresno State baseball jersey on another wall, as well as patches of Fresno fire and police patches. Each restaurant is uniquely decorated and strives to reflect the community, Zygler said.
As far as the name — Cane is the name of founder Todd Graves’ dog.
Even with 1,000 employees at its five Central Valley stores, Zygler says they are still hiring. Pay starts at minimum wage ($15 an hour), with a chance for raises with more experience.
The loose atmosphere is intentional, Zygler says.
“We kind of have this slogan where we make fun of work and we’re very serious about what we do and we have very high standards, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously,” Zygler said. “You hear the chants back there. This is people’s first-time jobs and we’re respectful of that. We want to have a fun work atmosphere and it’s what enables us to get 200 crew members in such a tight labor market.”