Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, Mt. Pleasant, SC

Chicken Finger Heaven
Early on in my restaurant career I was a waitress or w/w, as they called us at TGI Friday’s.  It was very early in the history of casual themed fern bar restaurants and I believe that there were about 30 locations (there are close to 1,000 now).

The training that I received was very detailed.  Four of us were in training at the same time in a training class that included both classroom and follow shifts (where you follow another waiter/ess) for a total of 17 days and we were paid minimum wage.  At that time Friday’s boasted that they had a menu that included 189 items, and it was very difficult to learn the detail about each menu item.  There were quizzes we had to pass and at the end of the 17 days we were required to take a very long final exam and score at least 90% to get on the floor. I scored a 92 and it earned me the right to work day shifts for the first six months of my tenure there.  Can you say Sunday Brunch/the worst shift?

When I started to wait tables I appreciated all of the information that was drilled into me about the menu items, sauces, philosophy, etc., but then I thought, “Does it have to be this complicated?”  Today I finally got my answer.

I stopped into Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers in Mt. Pleasant today for lunch. The restaurant has been open for about a year and there always seems to be somewhat of a crowd there whenever we’ve driven by.  I decided to see for myself what the draw was.

This place is the epitome of simple. Simple layout, simple design, simple menu, easy ordering system, fast service and friendly people.  Todd Graves, the “owner, fry cook and cashier”, should bottle this recipe and sell it… quickly. 

The story of Raising Cane’s is an interesting one. Todd received a very low grade in college on his business plan to open a restaurant that only sold chicken fingers.  The bank also kicked him to the curb on this venture.  So he decided to work hard and earn his own money to open his first location just outside of LSU.  The result was a successful restaurant that had to stay open until 3:30 a.m. to meet the needs of those who desired chicken fingers.

So my visit today was just as simple.  A nice young man at the counter asked me for my order and what sauce I wanted.  I ordered a Combo meal that included three chicken fingers, fries, Texas Toast and a fountain beverage.  When I asked what my sauce choices were he said, “You must be new here so I’ll make sure you get both the Cain’s sauce (a little spicy number) and the honey mustard.” I then went to the condiment station (which was spotlessly clean like the rest of the restaurant), and got my beverage, napkins, etc.
Combo Platter
A few minutes later they called my name and delivered my lunch.  For a whopping $6.62 there was actually too much to eat.  Three crisp, very hot chicken fingers, fries and a jumbo piece of grilled Texas toast adorned my plate. Both of the sauces were good, but I found the honey mustard sauce to be a tad too sweet.  I can say though, that I was in Chicken Finger Heaven.

Who would have thought that you can open a restaurant that serves just Chicken Fingers?  If you want a sandwich they offer that too, it’s a few chicken fingers on a bun with lettuce and tomato.  It can’t get much easier than that.

After 15 years Raising Cane’s (named after Todd’s dog), are now in 15 states and have over 100 locations.  When I found this out from their website I wondered what the professor that graded Todd so harshly was doing today…

We gave Raising Cane 5 out of a possible 5 plates.

Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers on Urbanspoon


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