“They’re like family,” says Debbie Prewitt, Louisville Market President and SVP of Commercial Lending at CUB. “They’re very collaborative and are ideal clients. CUB, as a community bank, believes in investing our time, talent and money in our local communities. Raising Cane’s is very much like us in that way and we share the same philosophy. Our commitments are very closely aligned.”
CUB provides construction loans, depository banking and Smart Safe solutions to Raising Cane’s parent company, CRM Companies, and its subsidiaries, Dropping Bird and Cool Dough, which own and operate 16 Raising Cane’s and MOD Pizza restaurants in Louisville and Lexington. Because CUB is a community bank, it is nimble and able to customize financial solutions for individual clients. CUB executives are also as close as a phone call, and the bank embraces a company culture that is family-like. So does Raising Cane’s.
“One of the things I’ve been very impressed by in Cane’s employee culture is that employees give their own money to an Employee Fund so that when a crew member hits a rough patch or is experiencing difficulty, there are funds to help him or her out,” Prewitt says. “It’s beyond amazing.”
Not only does Raising Cane’s have an amazingly craveable product cooked fresh to order, but it also generously serves surrounding communities with the restaurant chain’s fun and whimsical trademark style. Similarly, CUB employees volunteer their time to help local charities, and on Columbus Day each year, all employees are given paid time off to volunteer at any of more than a dozen non-profits.
“We have a premium product and believe in active community involvement,” says Garyen Denning, president and CEO of Dropping Bird, LLC. “The brands that are strong these days do a lot of work outside their four walls.”
Denning and his team, which opened their newest Raising Cane’s restaurant on Hurstbourne Lane in January, now have six restaurants in Louisville specializing in delicious chicken fingers. Josh Luckett is general manager of the new restaurant.
“We have the chicken delivered every day and marinate it for 24 hours,” Denning says. “Our Cane’s sauce has a bit of a cult following. And people love our Texas toast. Our devoted customers call themselves ‘Caniacs’.”
It takes 50-60 employees to open a new store, and all employees take part in community projects. Some of their most recent efforts include a beautification project at the home of a Big Brothers/Big Sisters participant during which employees did lawn maintenance, painted the family swing and completed other household tasks.
“Multiple times a year we also do Habitat for Humanity projects,” says Jeff Hudgins, marketing advisor for the restaurants. “And we also have a program called Raising Coats for Raising Cane’s in which employees and customers donate winter coats that we then give to the Salvation Army. During our most recent drive, we collected 1,000 coats.”
Prewitt adds, “We believe in their leadership team and we believe in their product. At CUB we always want to see our clients succeed.”
Raising Cane’s is able to attract great talent because it treats its employees well and provides a casual, fun and quirky working environment. Inside the restaurants, there are pictures on the walls including a black velvet painting of Elvis, a hard hat and salmon (ask about the story behind it the next time you visit!), and a big picture of Cane the mascot, a golden retriever wearing black sunglasses.
“We pay more than the minimum wage,” Denning says. “And we’re closed on eight holidays throughout the year because we want our employees to be able to spend time with their families.”
Hudgens says that Raising Cane’s also hosts fundraisers for local schools, universities, clubs and high school bands in which 15 percent of the profits of food purchased is donated to the organization.
“Our restaurants are so unlike any other fast food environment,” Denning says. “We’re investing in a brand that we ourselves would like to work at.”