Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers will break into the Empire State this summer with a Times Square eatery, but the Louisiana-based chain also is making a play for Long Island.
The fast-casual chain plans to enter the Long Island market with three new restaurants — in Hauppauge, Commack and East Meadow — that will open in 2025, a spokeswoman said.
The fast-growing chain won’t disclose the specific addresses, only the cross streets, for its planned Long Island restaurants.
But a proposed Raising Cane’s is listed in a petition for a zone change that was submitted May 5 to the Town of Smithtown, related to the planned redevelopment of vacant Hauppauge property in the 500 block of State Route 111.
The site once held a Burger King, Blockbuster Video, and two small office buildings, said Peter Hans, director in Smithtown’s planning department.
The property owner, J. Nazzaro Partnership L.P. in Bay Shore, submitted the petition and site plan indicating that a 3,062-square-foot Raising Cane’s and 2,260-square-foot Taco Bell would have drive-thru lanes on property at the southeast side of Route 111, just south of Route 347 (the Smithtown Bypass).
Also, two unnamed restaurants planned for the site would share a 4,000-square-foot building.
The property owner applied to Smithtown to re-zone half of the 4.18-acre site from Office Business, or OB, to Neighborhood Business, or NB, Hans said.
“The other half of the site is already zoned NB, and properties to the north and south are also zoned NB,” said Hans, who said the proposal likely will be presented at the town planning board’s June 28 meeting.
If the planning board recommends town board approval of the zoning change, the project will still need variance approvals from the board of zoning appeals and site plan approval from the town board, Hans said.
J. Nazzaro Partnership did not respond to requests for comment.
Regarding the other two restaurants that Raising Cane's is planning for Long Island, one would be in Commack, near the cross streets of Commack Road and Vanderbilt Parkway, and the other would be in East Meadow, near the cross streets of Hempstead Turnpike and Newbridge Road, the chain said.
Founded in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1996, Raising Cane’s has more than 700 restaurants in 36 states and Guam.
Raising Cane’s plans to open 100 restaurants this year and the same number next year, with a big push in the Northeast, a then-spokeswoman for the chain said last month.
“That is heavily driven by our growth in the New York area,” she said.
The chain is planning 17 restaurants in the New York metro area, including four in Manhattan, four in Brooklyn and five in Queens.
The Times Square restaurant, in Manhattan, will be the largest in the system, with 6,530 square feet on the ground level and 2,062 square feet in the basement of the eatery, which is set to open in late June, the chain said.
Rising up the ranks
The limited-service chicken restaurant segment, which includes fast-food and fast-casual eateries, is strong overall, said David Henkes, senior principal at Technomic, a restaurant and retail industry research firm in Chicago.
Raising Cane’s performs very well, particularly with Gen Z customers, and its fairly straightforward menu — consisting of chicken fingers or a chicken finger sandwich plus sides — makes it operationally less complex and easier to manage than some competitors, he said.
The chain’s sales grew 31% last year due to per-store sales increases and a big boost in store numbers — 14% more restaurants than in 2021, Henkes said.
“They are our No. 29 chain in the country and have aspirations to be a top 10 chain — something that, if current growth continues, could be a reality in a couple of years,” he said.