Southern-based chicken restaurant Raising Cane’s opened its first Chicago location on North Sheridan Road to the public early Tuesday.
The restaurant sits across the street from Campion Residence Hall, and is fully decorated with Loyola memorabilia. The menu consists of chicken fingers, Texas toast and fries, with meal prices under $10.
The grand opening included a ribbon cutting ceremony and giveaways, such as free Raising Cane’s for a year for 20 random customers and t-shirt and free box combo giveaways for the first 100 customers.
The line for entry at one point stretched from the Raising Cane’s entrance to Sheridan Road and Albion Ave with 137 people from all over the Chicagoland area.
“We had a ton of people down the block, so that was exciting to see,” Anna Ball, a marketing advisor for Raising Cane’s, said. “It was an amazing opening for us.”
The Loyola spirit team and members of the pep band were in attendance for the event.
“It was really cool to have the Loyola spirit team here, because you can see that [Raising Cane’s] is associated with Loyola,” Darby Jones, a Loyola junior said. “The band and LU Wolf were here, so it was really cool.”
Raising Cane’s has developed a partnership with the Loyola athletics program and is a sponsor sporting events. On March 5, Raising Cane’s had a training session for its workers and held a private event exclusively for Loyola students to try the food. This event raised about $2,000 for the athletics program. Additionally, Raising Cane’s has done other giveaways at basketball games.
Patrick Schultz, the associate athletic director of corporate partnerships said that Raising Cane’s has put focus on the Loyola community and athletic program.
“Raising Cane’s has put a priority of not just opening a store in a community, but immersing itself in the community,” Schultz said. “Every Raising Cane’s location that is near a college campus becomes a partner with that campus community and they have found that becoming a partner with the Athletic Program really helps it connect with the campus community.”
Schultz said that Loyola helped spread the word for the grand opening, and the athletics department helped to get the Loyola memorabilia for the restaurant.
“The connection with Loyola has been amazing,” Ball said. “Definitely a really big plus connecting with Loyola and getting those relationships built to start off with.”
The company has opened five other locations in the suburbs of Chicago, but the Sheridan Road location is the first in the city. People are happy to have a location that’ll serve the urban population.
“I’m from Skokie, so ever since Cane’s has come around to the [suburbs], up until this one, a lot of high school kids ended up spending their weekends and Friday nights going out to Cane’s in Harwood Heights,” Alec Esteban, a high school senior said. “Now with this one opening, it’s going to be a lot more commuter friendly with those in North Shore.”
Esteban and his friend, Vincent Bellissimo, also a high school senior, skipped school to attend the grand opening for the Sheridan Road location.
“We walked into school and I said, ‘You know what, do you just want to go to the grand opening? You only experience something like this once,’” Bellissimo said. “So we decided we would just go and get all our assignments from our teachers tonight and just email them.”
Olivia Fazzola, the area director for Raising Cane’s, said many Loyola students are familiar with Raising Cane’s because they’re from out of state.
“The reception here on Loyola’s campus has been phenomenal, only because a lot of the students are out of state, and so they already know Cane’s, they have had Cane’s before,” Fazzola said.
Dakota Vondrak, a senior at Loyola, said he was happy because Raising Cane’s brings more variety to the Rogers Park neighborhood.
“I have only had it one time down in Louisiana, and I thought it was really good, so I’m pretty stoked for a chicken place. It’s nice to have new stuff around here.”
Briana DeBolt and her boyfriend Chamere Orr are both residents of Rogers Park, and are familiar with the chain and enthusiastic about the new location.
“My dad lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which is where Cane’s started. Normally when we go visit my dad we go to Cane’s like four times a week,” DeBolt said. “We are really excited that it’s opening. We live really close by so it’s kind of dangerous. I feel like we are going to be here a lot.”
The store will be open until 11 p.m. on weekdays and until 3:30 a.m. on weekends to cater to the Loyola student population.
“We will have late night hours, so we are excited to put some fun music on and let people dance and have fun and eat some chicken while they are doing it,” Ball said.
She said the company is proud to have the first Chicago location in Rogers Park.
“We couldn’t be more excited to open our first actual Chicago restaurant in the Rogers Park and Loyola area,” Ball said. “It’s a really great neighborhood. We are super proud to be here and just can’t wait to continue.”