- December 9, 2021
The wait is over.
Raising Cane’s, the popular Louisiana fast-food chain that specializes in chicken strips, opened its first Gulf Coast location in Clearwater on Tuesday morning.
The restaurant is at 2525 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd. on the site of the former Village Inn.
This is Raising Cane’s third Florida location, but more are on the way. The company currently has job listings for restaurants in Gainesville, Orlando and Largo.
In addition to locations in Clearwater, Miami and Homestead, a company spokesperson says Raising Cane's plans to open about 25 locations across the state between now and 2024. This will include 10 in South Florida, 10 in the Orlando area and five in the greater Tampa area.
The company is also opening in Tallahassee and Gainesville this year.
Raising Cane’s was founded by entrepreneur Todd Graves who, according to a history of the company on its website, presented his business plan for a chicken finger restaurant in college and received the lowest grade in the class. The professor said it would never work. Banks were equally pessimistic.
Undeterred, he spent about two years working as a boiler maker and commercial fisherman to save money to open his restaurant.
Graves, who remains CEO, opened the first Raising Cane’s in 1996 with cash he’d saved and the help of a Small Business Administration loan. Today, Raising Cane’s has more than 650 locations nationwide and is growing. The company, which is private, said in 2020 that its sales had topped $1.5 billion.
The new Clearwater location is on a 1.39-acre piece of property west of Clearwater Mall and U.S. 19. It is on the south side of the road across from two other popular eateries, Chick-fil-A and Aussie Grill by Outback. Raising Cane’s paid $4.5 million for the property about a year ago.