Utah loves a fast food chain with a devoted cult following—think Chick-Fil-A, In-N-Out Burger and Shake Shack, which all remain wildly popular years after their Beehive State debuts. It makes sense for Utah; these places are relatively cheap, kid-friendly and most of the time you don’t even have to leave your minivan.
Add Raising Cane’s to the list of fast food taking over Utah suburbs. The Louisiana-based chicken restaurant opened in South Jordan Tuesday with the kind of lines usually reserved for Disneyland in the summer or gay clubs during Pride. When I made it to the front of the line at 3:30 p.m., the employee manning the door, a convincingly passionate Raising Cane’s evangelist, estimated they’d already served 3,000 people that day. The drive-through line, which seemed to go on for blocks, was at least an hour wait. (All this before the dinner rush. Shudder.) Especially devoted Raising Cane’s fans tried to camp out the night before—employees put a stop to that, but some people were already waiting for their finger fix the next morning before 6 a.m.
First things first, no chicken finger is worth pitching a tent in your local parking lot. Clearly, Raising Cane’s is already a huge success, but this sort of frenzy may, at least in the short term, turn off the uninitiated. There’s just no way to live up to the hype. Plus, newbies may be surprised to know that the menu essentially has one item: chicken fingers, served in combos with crinkle-cut fries, Texas toast and coleslaw. (There’s also a sandwich which is…chicken fingers on a bun.) If you’re only going to do one thing, you better do it well.
So yeah, on the one hand, they’re just chicken fingers. On the other hand, let’s not be snobbish: chicken fingers are basically a perfect food, uniting picky adults ordering off the kids’ menu, actual kids ordering off the kids’ menu and anyone who’s not too proud to accept some simple pleasure in their life. Even a mediocre chicken finger is rarely disappointing, and Raising Cane’s really does make a great one. The meat is noticeably fresher than your typical fast-food fare, and every order comes with their signature sauce, a tangy and just-a-little-bit spicy concoction the restaurant swears is top-secret—but you can find imitation recipes online.
More locations have already been announced in West Valley and Provo, and an employee told me the chain is planning on at least six restaurants in Utah soon. Maybe it’s best to wait until the excitement dies down so you don’t have to share one location with the entire valley. Still, Raising Cane’s does belong near the top of the fast food tier, and it’s a great alternative to a certain homophobic competitor that clogs both 2100 South and your arteries. (Okay, to be fair, Raising Cane’s isn’t exactly health food either.) And while I for one welcome our new fried chicken overlords, some local favorites, like HSL, Pig & A Jelly Jar and Pretty Bird, serve great fried chicken too, and they could use some of our love.
3788 W. 11400 South, South Jordan