Thanks in large part to those crew members, the company is seeing more than $5 million in AUV, one of the highest in the quick-service industry for a chain its size.
Raising Cane’s has constructed a pipeline of more than 300 restaurants over the past three to four years, most of which are freestanding drive-thru locations. More than 80 percent of units are company-owned, and that will remain as the primary growth vehicle.
“We are not a franchise business. We are a company-owned-and-operated model,” Kumaran says. “That allows us to be nimble, flexible, and do all the right things, such as investing in people. We have a slate of multi-restaurant leaders all across these new markets who don't even have restaurants yet, but they're just getting their pencils sharpened and their training sharpened up to get going.”
Units coming this year will be some of the most ambitious yet. For example, Raising Cane’s plans to open an 8,500-square-foot flagship in New York City, which will be the largest restaurant in Times Square and will “showcase to the world our passion for chicken finger meals and our history,” according to Kumaran.
Additionally, a West Coast flagship will open as one of the largest quick-service outlets on the Las Vegas Strip, right next to MGM Grand Hotel & Casino. The outlet will “speak to the history and the culture of Vegas city in a Cane’s manner.” Another flagship in Miami will be housed in an art deco building.
Other target markets include Boston, Nashville, Philadelphia, the DMV, and New Jersey. Raising Cane’s announced that it will enter 10 new markets this year; Kumaran says that will likely reach 12-15 markets over the next 15 months.
“Our growth model is to be a global footprint, but have a very local presence and identity,” Kumaran says.
The fast casual’s growth journey won’t be without challenges, however. Because of a variety of macroeconomic factors, Kumaran estimates the brand pushed about 10 of its openings from 2021 into this year. He knows there will be more concerns in 2022, but the executive adds that Raising Cane’s is in a solid position because of its strong, mutual relationship with suppliers.
Kumaran says supply chain, construction, and staffing challenges are “not only unprecedented, but they are very, very hard.” That’s why Raising Cane’s plans to leverage its more than 25 years of legacy and consistency to maintain growth and its position as a preferred place of employment.
“We are about giving out craveable chicken finger meals to every customer who walks in through our front door, also the drive-thru, and spends their hard-earned money with us,” Kumaran says. “That's what we're all about and that's what we're good at and that's what we will continue doing. I have very high expectations out of 2022 coming up here and I honestly have even higher expectations of the future. I think we're just getting warmed up. I think we will have thousands and thousands of restaurants all across the world.”