This Is Why Raising Cane's Will Never Change Its Menu - Exclusive

There are two extremes when it comes to restaurant menus: There's the giant, laminated tome you'll be handed at many diners, where you can choose from a dozen different ways to eat eggs, several pages of salads — and let's not even get started on what's for dinner! On the other end of the spectrum, there's the Raising Cane's menu, which is only slightly longer than a fortune cookie message. In the 25 years that this Louisiana-based restaurant has been in business, it's famously offered only four options: chicken fingers, fries, slaw, and Texas toast.

Don't expect Raising Cane's to deviate from this minimalism, said Todd Graves, who founded the brand back when he was a student at Louisiana State University, per Reveille. In an exclusive interview with Mashed, Graves, who was warned by his business teacher that such a limited menu would limit his restaurant's profitability, pointed out that on the contrary, Raising Cane's simplicity is the secret to its success. The professor had chided him, "You really didn't do your homework," Graves recalled. "At this point, quick-service restaurants were adding a lot of variety, right? They were going to get healthy items, they're doing all these things." Even as an undergraduate, Graves had the foresight to stick to his guns, however. "I just believe in doing one thing and doing it better than anybody else, or at least striving to, and focusing on that and being good at what you're good at ...  And so anyway, and it's worked out for 25 years. But look, it got the worst grade in business planning class," he quipped.

How Graves chose the four items that are on the Raising Cane's menu

How did Raising Cane's happen to land on those four specific items on the menu? Why, say, chicken fingers and not wings? According to Graves, "craveability" is what the options on the Raising Cane's menu have in common. "So the chicken fingers and sauce, that's the epicenter ... it's the highest quality chicken, but the chicken with the sauce, that's the hook, right? The chicken by itself is really good, but with the sauce, that's the craveable part," Graves explained. "But then you have those crinkle-cut fries. I grew up [with] crinkle-cut fries; [I'm] nostalgic. My mother would make that. The crinkles get it a little more crisp, I think."

Of course, no Raising Cane's run would be complete without Texas toast. This, too, is designed to be the kind of food you daydream about long before you hit the drive-thru. "It's not sliced bread where it can get stale. It's like little dough balls put together so they grow," Graves explained, "and you pull them apart. It's dense and it's soft and it's moist and it's just garlic butter. People go nuts over it!" The one menu item Graves personally does not crave is coleslaw. "I'm not a coleslaw fan at all. I guess if I was, I might like our slaw," he conceded. "But people are, and it was an old traditional Southern thing to have coleslaw with chicken." For Raising Cane's patrons like himself, swapping the slaw for another option is always a popular choice. "I like having it on the menu because most people trade it out for extra toast or extra fries or extra sauce," Graves said. "That's the fun component of it."

To find a Raising Cane's location near you, visit their website.