After opening 250 stores throughout the country in nearly two decades, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers has gone international. But unlike many companies that simply open a location in Canada just so they can claim they’re an “international company,” Raising Cane’s founder Todd Graves decided to open his first store outside the United States in a place much more exotic than Toronto or Vancouver.
So did he open a restaurant in Europe? Or maybe somewhere like Tokyo or Hong Kong? Ooh, is it Beijing?
Nope. Raising Cane’s first international location is in mutha-effing Kuwait City, as in the capital of the country we had to liberate from Saddam Hussein in the early ’90s.
That’s right. A chicken finger place born in Baton Rouge has gone international by opening a restaurant in an Arab country in the Middle East. How you like those falafels?
The Kuwait City Raising Cane’s opened in September and has reportedly started building a loyal following. Nevertheless, some might question Graves’ wisdom in branching out into the Arab world.
It’s nothing against the people there; it’s that the adjustments made to accommodate the cultural differences literally take away one of the main things Raising Cane’s is known for. More specifically, it takes away the very thing Raising Cane’s was named after and is identified with: Raising Cane, the dog.
Even soft and cuddly stuffed toy dogs aren’t considered adorable over there.
Yes, the image of Graves’ yellow lab, the namesake and mascot of his highly successful restaurant chain, is nowhere to be found in the Kuwait City Raising Cane’s. That’s because in the Middle East, dogs aren’t exactly beloved like they are here in America. In fact, calling someone a dog over there is a great insult that has to do more with ethnicity than looks. It apparently stems from high rates of rabies and stigma surrounding canines in the Muslim faith.
So the affable pooch you’ve probably seen on a billboard fist-bumping LSU coach Les Miles, or wearing sunglasses on poster in a Raising Cane’s (possibly next to “Velvet Elvis”), is conspicuously absent from the decor of the Kuwait City restaurant. That includes the stuffed Raising Cane’s Plush Puppy toy, too, because even soft and cuddly stuffed toy dogs aren’t considered adorable over there.
While Graves and his team have gone to great lengths to remove all imagery of the dog from the Kuwait City eatery, however, the same cannot be said for the Raising Cane’s website. Unless Graves has built an alternate, dog-free site for visitors using Kuwaiti IP addresses, all those less-than-canine-loving Middle Eastern patrons are just a click away from learning how a big, yellow lab is an integral part of Raising Cane’s identity.
Of course, Graves says he and his team focused on ensuring the entire menu is halal, meaning all the food is prepared and served in accordance with Islamic law. And while that seems like a no-brainer, there are some other adjustments Graves may want to make to the American brand to ensure continued success at his new location.
For instance, some items on the stateside Raising Cane’s menu probably need to be tweaked a bit, like the popular “Caniac” combo. The word “Caniac” should be scratched from the Middle Eastern Raising Cane’s model since the translation is roughly interpreted as “Cane jihadist.”
Graves also would be wise to drop any 3- or 4-finger combos, as those could possibly offend Middle Easterners previously convicted of theft. They might also offend those related to such convicted thieves.
Additionally, he should 86 the Texas toast, or at least call it something else. The Lone Star State has a worldwide reputation for being anti-Islamic.
The word “Caniac” should be scratched from the Middle Eastern Raising Cane’s model since the translation is roughly interpreted as “Cane jihadist.”
And Graves might also want to drop the coleslaw from the Kuwaiti menu merely for the fact that Americans are the only ones stupid enough to eat that crap.
As for marketing in the region, Raising Cane’s could at least try to maintain some semblance of the brand it’s built in America by slightly altering some of its taglines. “Always fresh. Never frozen” could easily become “Always halal. Never frozen.”
You may have heard a Raising Cane’s radio or TV ad conclude with the line “One love” and a dog barking “Woof woof!” “One love” should be OK in the Middle East, but, for aforementioned reasons, they should drop the dog sounds. And as tempting as it may be, Raising Cane’s should definitely steer clear of signing off their ads with “Allahu akbar! Woof woof!”