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Raising Cane's Is the Southern Chicken Chain You're About to See Everywhere

This regional darling just opened a massive Times Square restaurant—and it's not stopping there.

This Louisiana-based chicken chain is making huge moves up north.

Raising Cane's, the chicken finger-centric fast-food brand with roots in Baton Rouge just set up shop in New York City in a major way: it opened a sprawling 8,000-square-foot flagship restaurant in Times SquareAnd the opening of this massive new location isn't a one-off event, but rather the bellwether of major planned expansion.

For some perspective, first consider this: the average size of a fast-food restaurant is about 3,150 square feet, per data from SwiftEstimator. Next, consider the fact that while the average per-square-foot commercial rent costs are under $10, in Times Square, a business can expect to pay more than $80 per square foot. Meaning Raising Cane's is likely paying well over $650,000 per month just for the space its newest restaurant is occupying.

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Raising Cane's Times Square
Raising Cane's

Sounds like a business with big plans, no? Well, it is!

Raising Cane's currently operates about 740 restaurants. That's a lot of units, to be sure, but it hardly puts the chicken chain anywhere near the top 10 or even the top 20 largest fast-food chains by restaurant count, all of which number well into the thousands. But the chain has been enjoying a growth spurt that may well make it a contender for that top 20 list and, if the all goes according to plan, as a top 10 fast-food chain within a number of years. The CEO of Raising Cane's, Todd Graves, was quoted as saying there was "no looking back" following the Times Square flagship store opening and the growth the chain has been experiencing recently.

That growth includes an impressive 100 locations slated for opening in 2023 alone. There are also many Raising Cane's locations that are slated to open in and around the greater New York City area (including Long Island), and it's arguably these two-dozen or so planned openings that represent the true levels of the company's aspiration. New York and regions even farther North represent largely uncharted territory for this primarily Southern restaurant chain.

If you look at a map of the current distribution of Raising Cane's locations, you will see a heavy concentration in Louisiana (no surprise, as the chain started there), Texas, and other Southern states, with a decent presence in the Midwest, in Arizona, and in California, as well. But so far, the Northeast (and the Northwest) are far from saturated with Raising Cane's locations.

Check back in on a map showing the entire system of this chain that specializes in chicken fingers, Texas Toast, and a few good sides (and lemonade and iced tea) and you are sure to see a very different picture: one that has dots on the map far and wide. And as Raising Cane's is a young chain in the scheme of things, having opened its doors in 1996, this growth is rapid enough to raise eyebrows.

Steven John
Steven John is a freelancer writer for Eat This, Not That! based just outside New York City. Read more about Steven