|Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers Founder|
Todd Graves is the 2012 LRA
Restaurateur of the Year.
Graves has built his business with little support in the early days. No bank would lend him money as they didn’t believe a simple chicken finger concept would work. Some bankers even told him he should give up the idea and “get a real job.” At that point, Graves knew he would need to raise his own capital to achieve his dream.
From the oil refineries in South Louisiana to his eventual move to Alaska to commercial salmon fish, he worked diligently until he had raised enough seed money to open his first Raising Cane’s right outside the gates of LSU. In a moment of inspiration, he named the restaurant after his yellow lab, Raising Cane.
“Todd is a great example of an individual who followed his dream, and against great odds, made his idea a reality,” said Stan Harris, President/CEO, LRA. “His story is one that shows the entrepreneurial spirit that makes the restaurant industry one that many individuals find their calling, career and life’s work within.”
In 15 years, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers has grown from that first location to more than 130 restaurants in 16 states. Raising Cane’s now ranks as one of the fastest growing privately-owned companies in the U.S.
Philanthropy is a huge part of Graves’ commitment to the community. Graves and Raising Cane’s have given more than 25 percent of their profits back to the communities where Raising Cane’s restaurants operate. With an emphasis on education, food insecurity, active lifestyles, canine assistance and business and entrepreneurial organizations, the impact has been enormous.
“The generosity of restaurateurs ought to be well known,” said National Restaurant Association Chairwoman Roz Mallet. “Our industry donates $3 billion a year, and Todd is an example of the philanthropic nature of restaurateurs.”
Past Restaurateur of the Year honorees have included: Leah Chase, John Besh, Greg Reggio, John Folse and Paul Prudhomme.