Raising Cane's was founded on the premise of serving communities in five key areas: education, feeding the hungry, pet welfare, active lifestyles and business development and entrepreneurship. At the New Iberia Admiral Doyle location—nicknamed “Da Berrie”—this means partnering with local schools, opening a dog park, sponsoring a batting cage at the Pepperplex and supporting the Chamber's annual banquet.
“There's not a month that we don't at least donate money to certain organizations,” says Aaron Leleux, a New Iberia native who worked his way up from crewmember to assistant general manager. He says this summer Raising Cane's is partnering with local Bible schools and recently gave out almost 3,000 awards for kids who excelled during the school year. “We also had a Teacher Appreciation Day at the end of May where we fed all the teachers in the parish for free,” Leleux adds.
Feeding the hungry in the form of chicken is easy for Raising Cane's, but the opening of the company-sponsored dog park at New Iberia City Park—the city's first dog park—furthered their commitment to the local community. Raising Cane's donated all $9,000 for the park, which opened in 2014 next to Devil's Pond.
The company's “pet welfare” service arm is also a natural, as Raising Cane's is named for founder Todd Graves' yellow lab. Another current promotion nationwide is the Stars & Stripes Plush Puppy in support of Patriot Paws. The Plush Puppy program, which features collectible stuffed dogs for sale in participating restaurants, started in 2004 and has donated more than $700,000 back to local, no-kill pet welfare organizations.
Fundraisers are another big way Raising Cane's supports community organizations. Fifteen percent of sales from determined days and time periods are donated to a variety of causes, including all local schools. Community organizations can also put in a donation request on the website.
Leleux says they can't approve all requests, especially for individuals or political activities, but Raising Cane's tries to find a way to support every request that comes in. “We get three to five requests a month,” says Leleux. “There's certain things we can't do, but we'll at least give them a free meal or gift basket just for thinking of us.”
As summertime kicks off, so does Raising Cane's Lemonade Day, a program teaching kids the power of entrepreneurship. Parents and/or schools can sign up online and get tools like a mentor guide, digital learning platform and official signage. Leleux says Lemonade Day is also a way for crewmembers to get out in the community and volunteer by serving lemonade.
All of these giving back efforts—not to mention donating toast ends to Solomon House, supporting the Dragon Boat Races and George Rodrigue Park—amount to approximately $25,000 in donations locally each year. That number rises to $200,000 when you take into account all six of Raising Cane's Acadiana restaurants.
“In New Iberia, it's great to run a business that gives back to the community,” says Leleux.