On its opening day, the staff at Raising Cane are screaming and screaming. It’s part of the work culture at Fresno’s newest quick-service chicken restaurant.
The national chicken industry has developed rapidly in the Valley. Tuesday’s opening in North Fresno (7507 N. Blackstone Ave. at the southwest corner of El Paso Ave.) is the fifth since last July. Other locations include Tulare, Visalia, Hanford, and Clovis.
Chris Zygler, regional manager for Raising Cane, said the openings were by popular demand.
“People are familiar because they went to Los Angeles or maybe released Raising Cane in Vegas. So people really wanted us to bring it to the Valley, and we did,” Zygler said. “Once we identify that there are Caniacs – there are also nearly 750,000 people between Fresno and Clovis – there is a lot of population and support for Raising Cane’s.”
Watch: Secrets to Raising Cane’s Success
The new restaurant sits on a site once 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 features a dual-lane drive-thru and dual kitchen – to serve both in-store and at the drive-thru.
The Fresno site employs 200 people and 14 managers. Closing time is 2am on weekdays and later on weekends. Zygler says the extended hours are for night shift workers and first responders.
A company official said 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 the chicken fingers. Even the sides are limited to crinkle fries, coleslaw and Texas toast.
“We only do one thing, do it very well. Our chicken is never frozen. It is always served chilled. We marinate our chicken for 24 hours before serving it. And then pretty much when you order it, we drop it hot and fresh right into the fryer,” Zygler said. “We’re not big on change. We have the mantra that if it ain’t 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 drink) to six fingers for $14.59. A two-part kids meal costs $5.49.
Even the sandwich combo ($8.69) is just three fingers in a bun.
As part of the St. Patrick’s Day promotion, Raising Cane’s serves green lemonade.
Most chickens come from Foster Farms in Fresno.
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 unique to each Raising Cane’s. Our founder wanted to cover a hole in the wall of our first Raising Cane Cane and used an Elvis towel and frame to make it. And it was our first velvet Elvis, and now we have a velvet Elvis as a tribute to that and all the Raising Cane’s,” Zygler said.
There’s a Fresno State baseball jersey on another wall, along with Fresno Fire and Police patches. Each restaurant is uniquely decorated and strives to reflect the community, Zygler said.
As for 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’re still hiring. Pay starts at minimum wage ($15 per hour), with the possibility of increasing with more experience.
The relaxed atmosphere is intentional, says Zygler.
“We kind of have this slogan where we don’t care about the job 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 over there. This is people’s first job and we respect that. We want to have a fun working atmosphere and that’s what allows us to have 200 crew members in such a tight job market.