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updated: 3/18/2017 8:00 AM

Raising Cane's bringing famous chicken fingers to Naperville

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  • Look for the number 1 in the architecture of the new Raising Cane's fast-food chicken fingers restaurant, which is set to open April 25 in Naperville. The 1 signifies the restaurant's "one love" for chicken finger meals.

    Look for the number 1 in the architecture of the new Raising Cane's fast-food chicken fingers restaurant, which is set to open April 25 in Naperville. The 1 signifies the restaurant's "one love" for chicken finger meals.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

 
 

As the new Raising Cane's chicken fingers restaurant goes up in Naperville, look for the number 1.

Tucked into the architecture of the fast-food restaurant, the 1 signifies the restaurant's "one love," marketing adviser Anna Ball says.

"We want to share our one love: We serve chicken fingers," Ball said. "They are never frozen. We marinate for a minimum of 24 hours. They're hand-battered and cooked to order ... Everything we do is centered around those chicken fingers."

Naperville diners can be among the first in the Chicago area to get a taste of Raising Cane's "one love" when the restaurant opens April 25 at 698 S. Route 59. The Naperville location will be the third in the region for the Louisiana-native chicken chain, which also has suburban eateries in North Riverside and Oak Lawn.

Since the first Raising Cane's opened in 1996 in Baton Rouge, the chain has become known for its Cane's Sauce, which Ball described as "tangy with spices," meaning the flavorful kind, not the kind that pack the heat or set taste buds ablaze. Only managers know how to make Cane's Sauce and the recipe is kept secret from outsiders.

"When you pair that with the chicken, it's this phenomenal flavor," Ball said. "You want to have it again and again."

The restaurant's top selling box combo -- which comes with four chicken fingers, Cane's Sauce, crinkle-cut fries, Texas toast and house-made coleslaw -- sells for $7.85.

A kids meal, a chicken sandwich, a larger combo called the Caniac and a smaller version with only three chicken tenders also are on the menu, which is kept short on purpose, Ball said. Fewer foods keeps the focus on the chicken.

Raising Cane's gets its name from the pet dog of Todd Graves, the restaurant's "founder, CEO, fry cook and cashier."

Ball says Graves worked hard to make his chicken fingers restaurant a reality, despite initial rejections by banks and a college professor, who said the narrow business plan would never work. He got jobs as a boilermaker in an oil refinery and as a sockeye salmon fisherman in Alaska to save money to start the restaurant, which now has spread to 23 states.

The design of the new Naperville location will have at least two features in common with the first Raising Cane's: a disco ball and a "velvet Elvis," both of which are included in every Raising Cane's store. Ball says the disco ball is a simple, fun feature and the "velvet Elvis" is a painting of The King on a velvet canvas hung from a wall.

Raising Cane's is hiring 70 workers for its Naperville shop and plans to choose a Naperville-area charity to benefit with an event timed around the store's opening. The restaurant also plans to get involved with schools and community groups to help them with fundraisers.