Lifting Each Other Up: Raising Cane’s Shows Us How

Mike Howard and Thomas Bolen III 08/04/2020

Here is another “installment” of our series highlighting the remarkable efforts of our clients in 2020, and how – in the face of the huge economic, social, and health challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic – retail is banding together.

This week our blog features Raising Cane’s, a chicken finger fast-food chain that was founded in Louisiana and currently expanding in the D.C. and Baltimore Metro areas. Core to Raising Cane’s is the philosophy of “one love” – focusing on one main item (chicken fingers) and making them perfectly. They’re also a brand with strong community and crew ties, which reflects the culture of the group. It’s no surprise then, that in tough times like these they channeled that love and a sense of community into a campaign of support.

Assurance for staff

Raising Cane’s has not escaped the economic crunch that coronavirus ushered in, where sales in all sectors – but especially retail and dining – have been under severe pressure. Forbes is reporting that their sales were down around 25%, but founder and CEO Todd Graves has committed publicly to doing everything he can to keep everyone safe and to protect jobs for the approximately 23,000 employees of the chain. Additionally, Graves is putting his money where his mouth is: him and co-CEO AJ Kumaran have both decided not to draw a salary during the crisis.

These efforts combined mean that the group, according to, was actually able to take on more staff in May when so many others were forced to cut jobs. They’ve even opened up new stores – with a third unit opening in Daytona just last month and their first drive-thru in Hawaii. Drive-thrus continue to be a critical part of take-out recovery due to being a low-touch option, and this group has made a name for themselves as drive-thru experts, fast and friendly.

Staying productive

At the height of the outbreak, hundreds of locations were forced to close doors, but one unit in downtown Baton Rouge pivoted to a whole other kind of productivity: sewing masks for local hospitals who were reporting a shortfall in personal protective equipment (PPE). Graves has explained that two of the employees with sewing experience trained their co-workers and that Raising Cane’s purchased four sewing machines and additional supplies to support the group in making hundreds of masks a day.

Putting the fun in fundraising

Raising Cane’s efforts to spread a bit more joy in 2020 have been wide-ranging and varied. From traditional fundraising to entertainment. In May they hosted a virtual graduation for high school and college seniors across the nation – roping in none other than Snoop Dogg and Shaquille O’Neal to help the graduates celebrate their achievements – despite the pandemic restrictions.

On top of this, the company launched a “Cane’s in the Moment” campaign. Every Wednesday and Friday this “virtual entertainment series” hosted an artist or group and raised funds to support healthcare workers and organizations working in disaster relief.

QSR magazine reports that Raising Cane’s April 17 performance with Kevin Griffin of the band Better Than Ezra raised more than $35,000 for the Bella Bowman Foundation’s Relief Comfort Care bags for hospital workers. Plus celebrities like former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning “contacted Raising Cane’s and donated $10,000 to help the company provide meals for frontline workers. Graves decided to match Manning’s donation”, says the site.

They also joined forces with Martin Luther King III, committing to raising a minimum of $250,000 by donating a dollar from every box combo served on Juneteeth. The funds raised go towards his activist and community work promoting justice, equality and peace.

Pay it forward

Last, but absolutely not least, Raising Cane’s is so determined to help as many people as possible that they are in the planning stages of a reality show in which Graves will offer financial support and mentorship to other restaurants affected by the pandemic.

We’re thrilled to be working with this exciting and ethically led company who are leading by example despite everything. It’s been awesome to play our part, as tenant reps, finding locations with drive-thru potential for this brand as they extend their (chicken) fingers into new markets like D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. Welcome to the great DMV, Raising Cane’s.

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