Tasteful Growth: Raising Cane’s Highlighted Commitment To Culture, Community At Nashville Flagship Opening

“Everywhere we go, I like to be the fabric of the community. I like to give back to the community,” says owner Todd Graves.

Courtesy of Raising Cane's

Reverence for Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers and its famous Box Combo seemingly grows with each passing day, and so too does the opportunity for aggressive expansion. Spend even a few minutes on a Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers social account, and you will surely come across fans begging for a restaurant in their hometown.

The calls for new Raising Cane’s locations are definitely being heard; the beloved restaurant chain is opening new restaurants. It is finding new audiences with whom to share its iconic chicken fingers, toast, and sauce. It is reaching new heights as a business.

The brand is not, however, pursuing growth recklessly. It is not sacrificing anything about itself – from its commitment to local communities, to its people-centric culture, to its “One Love” of exceptionally high-quality chicken finger meals – in order to more quickly increase its reach.

“We’re opening about 100 restaurants in a twelve-month period now, and the reason why we’re doing that is because we feel comfortable to open 100 great restaurants with great crews and great cultures, and then being able to do well in Active Community Involvement,” noted owner Todd Graves at the opening of the brand’s new flagship Nashville restaurant on Wednesday, June 26.

Whereas some hot brands make growth their purpose, Cane’s focuses on growing with a purpose.

“Everywhere we go, I like to be the fabric of the community. I like to give back to the community,” said Graves.

One look at the new Nashville flagship proves that this claim is not empty rhetoric. It is immediately and resoundingly evident in every facet of the brand’s design, restaurant experience, and operating strategy.

The new restaurant is unbreakably faithful to both Nashville culture and the Raising Cane’s vision. It provides everything fans have come to love about the Raising Cane’s experience – but with a decidedly Nashville twist. With its walls decked out in rhinestones and iconic country music memorabilia, the restaurant is not a random Raising Cane’s building that happens to be in Nashville. Instead, it is the Nashville version of Raising Cane’s.

Courtesy of Raising Cane’s

For those familiar with Raising Cane’s, there is little surprising about the brand selecting Nashville for its newest flagship. Cane’s has a well-known resonance with the country music community, and Graves has developed long-standing friendships with some of the genre’s biggest stars. The restaurant even welcomed noteworthy country music stars for a party on the eve of its official launch. Still, Graves’ comments about the flagship reveal a special poignance to setting up a new home base within the Nashville community.

“For me, this is a really special location, because this street, Broadway, just reminds me of people going for their dreams,” explained Graves. “It reminds me of my own story. I had a dream, and I was told a chicken finger-only restaurant won’t work … [and I] got turned down by every bank. So I knew I had to raise money myself. I went out to Los Angeles and worked as a boilermaker in refineries doing turnaround shift work. And then I went and commercial-fished in Alaska. Dangerous trade, but I just wanted to raise that money to open my first Raising Cane’s … now we have 800 locations, an amazing crew, and I have a platform to give people great jobs and growth opportunities. The money we make can go back to help people in the communities. It’s just what this symbolizes to me.”

Courtesy of Raising Cane’s

Honoring that significant connection, Graves expressed his company’s commitment to enhancing, rather than detracting from, the spirit of Broadway.

“I hope people in Nashville see that we did a really nice building, nice facade, we did everything to where you would say it’s first class,” remarked Graves. “We’ll keep every bit of trash outside of our restaurant clean. We’re going to have a nice, friendly place people can come [into] … it’s going to be great service, and it’s going to be great food. We have a reasonably priced meal that people can come [enjoy] while they’re going to see each of these great bands … and go right back to the music. That’s kind of our place here.”

Coupled with the brand’s fundamental commitment to giving back, and it’s clear that Raising Cane’s growth strategy is about adding value rather than simply selling products within new communities.

“Then, what you should expect is, ‘what are you giving back to us in our communities, how are [you] helping to support.’ So everyone of these neighborhoods – we do the targets, ‘where do we need to help support, and what do we need to do as a business owner in this community,’” added Graves. “It does two things. One, purpose – you want to be a real, intricate part [of each community]. Two, you’re never going to be local, locals are never going to embrace you as a chain, unless you are acting locally.”

In speaking to that multi-faceted commitment, Graves underscored the importance of culture in the Raising Cane’s mentality – and ongoing success. Taking care of the crew, who in turn excitedly takes care of restaurant patrons at each and every Cane’s location, is at the root of that culture.

“How do [we] make the crew members’ journey with us to where they can grow, and it’s going to be fun and rewarding,” explained Graves regarding the brand’s employee experience philosophy. “When I started the first Raising Cane’s, it was different from what I went through when I worked in restaurants, which was ‘do this, do that.’ There was no music played, I was like ‘man, I don’t want that. I want to have a good time … we’re going to have fun, we’re going to play music, we’re going to wear casual uniforms, we’re going to have a good time.'”

Employee recognition is critical to this experience; Graves wants to ensure his crew receives true support and appreciation from leadership.

“Non-negotiable is making sure the crew is never done anything but treated right and appreciated,” declared Graves. “We have a department called Cane’s Love, it’s a whole department, all working on respect, recognition, and rewards. We’ve had that since our tenth location.”

With that employee experience in place, Graves is confident that his teams will be in position to earn customers’ money with great food and great service. That performance will lead to visible excitement from customers, adding to the fun and joy of working in a Raising Cane’s location.

Granted, talk about brand authenticity, community-based thinking, and employee centricity is rather common within the business world. What made Cane’s Nashville launch so special is how visible these tenets were to all patrons, influencers, and media in attendance.

The team’s energy and excitement during the ribbon-cutting was palpable. The team’s passion for quality food and service was evident in each Box Combo brought out to attendees.

And the brand’s sense of community was made clear shortly after the opening, when Graves joined The Kid LAROI and Harry Hudson to serve food at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital.

The new Raising Cane’s flagship is now open at 121 Broadway in Nashville.

Written by Brian Cantor

Brian Cantor is the editor-in-chief for Headline Planet. He has been a leading reporter in the music, movie, television and sporting spaces since 2002.

Brian's reporting has been cited by major websites like BuzzFeed, Billboard, the New Yorker and The Fader -- and shared by celebrities like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj.

Contact Brian at brian.cantor[at]


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