Founded in 1996 and now reaching roughly 750 restaurants worldwide, Raising Cane’s has become nostalgic for many, says founder Todd Graves. Often, he takes requests from fans who want to meet the “Cane’s guy.”
In 2019, that fan happened to be Grammy-nominated music artist Post Malone. Graves and his daughter attended the Rolling Loud concert in Miami where he was performing, thinking that the social exchange would be just a few seconds. But an invitation to the tour bus turned into an invitation to Post’s house, which eventually turned into a night out in Miami.
This was the start of a new friendship for Graves and Post.
“What I really like about Post, he’s a world superstar, but he’s like the welder that lives down the street from you,” Graves says. “He’s just a nice guy and just kind. We talk about family. We’d go out to his house out in Salt Lake City and get to visit. My son came out one time, and my daughter, and we go to shows all over the country and get to hang out with him. I love how laid back he is.”
The singer is “crazy about Cane’s,” according to Graves. The founder even brought a food truck to Post’s house one time for a party that ran all night. The singer is so passionate about the brand that he asked if the company could open a location near his house in Midvale, Utah. Not only that, but Post wanted to be part of the design process.
The result was a redesigned restaurant exterior wrapped in solid pink and tattoo imagery. The color scheme continues inside the store with pink flooring and walls. Outfits worn by Post can be seen throughout the location as well. The reimagined unit opened in April, and Graves says customers come through Salt Lake City’s airport just to visit Raising Cane’s.
Post was proud of what he created, to the point that he wanted to design another one. This time, it would be one closer to his heart and football fandom.
“He’s like, ‘Man, can we do one more?” Graves recalls. “And I was like, ‘Yeah, yeah. Where do you want to do it? He goes, ‘Dallas, of course. First place I had Cane’s, where I grew up, my hometown team. Can we do something with the Cowboys?’ I said sure, let me call the Cowboys. We’ve been a sponsor with them for years. They said, ‘Sure, let’s do it and blow it up.’”
Similar to the store in Utah, Post had complete control of the process. The remodeled restaurant’s exterior is colored in Cowboys gray and blue and features silhouettes of Post’s signature on-stage moments. Customers are also greeted with a 32-foot-tall star (matching the football team’s logo) at the drive-thru lane. The inside has blue lighting and showcases memorabilia from the Cowboys and Post, a vending machine holding unique merchandise, a mailbox for Post to receive fan mail, and a knight suit replica of 1400s gothic armor, a nod to Post’s love for medieval times.
Thousands showed up to the grand opening event earlier in October, including Cowboys cheerleaders and Post himself.
“No idea too crazy. We’ll get it done,” says Graves, about Post’s designs. “We don’t know how, but we’re going to build it. You got Cowboys blue in here. He wanted the whole thing to be sleek and cool, down to the floors where you get this image that you’re walking into another crazy type of space. So no, whatever he wanted to do, we just said, ‘Let’s let’s have fun with it.’ And literally all his creation. It’s all of what he picked and what he wanted to do and how he wanted to display the restaurant versus us saying, ‘Hey, let’s do this.’”
The collaboration was more than just a favor to a friend, Graves explains. It also made business sense. Raising Cane’s is well-penetrated in the DFW market with roughly 65 restaurants, and a good portion of the consumers in these trade areas are fans of the Cowboys and Post. This particular restaurant was chosen for the redesign because it was the most centrally located. Plus, it’s only about 20 minutes from the airport.
Pre-fabricated equipment was transported to the location, which underwent a four-week remodeling process. The location is triple-staffed, with many employees eager to work at the Cowboys-themed store.
“Some people will be trying Cane’s for the first time like they did in Midvale from different parts of the world,” Graves says. “So we want it so they get the good food and get friendly service. The [employees are] ready to go, and they’re really proud to be able to work at this location.”
Graves estimates Raising Cane’s will open around 50 stores between now and the end of 2023. In addition to the Post-branded restaurants in Dallas and Midvale, the chain also debuted two stores in Manhattan, one of them being an 8,000-plus-square-foot outlet in Times Square. The flagship restaurant staffs more than 165 employees and contains a custom mural from New York City-based artist Timothy Goodman.
The plan for 2024 is to open more than 100 restaurants. All of that is domestic, too. Internationally, Raising Cane’s has about 40 units in the Middle East, and it’s looking for more in Europe and Asia. A majority of stores are operated by the company so that Graves and other leadership can keep a better pulse on operations.
“It’s an expression of myself and my family,” Graves says. “I want our crew to be happy and make sure we’re doing a good job for the customers. I get all our mystery shopper reports and all that. I feel bad when someone has a bad meal, so it’s real personal. This is not some venture capitalist group that owns it and they’re just looking at the bottom line. I’m more about taking care of our crew and our customers for everything.”
Graves says that if Raising Cane’s were ever to team up with another celebrity, it would have to be through an organic friendship. As for the future with Post, the founder jokingly hinted that another unit may come across the pond.
“I don’t know, we’re talking maybe south of France or something fun like that,” Graves chuckles. “Let’s wait and see. He loves it and he’s got his wines. If you haven’t had them, they’re brilliant. Maybe the only Cane’s you could have wine. I don’t know, maybe that’s down the pipe in a little bit.”