Thursday, October 4, 2007

Who or What's The Boss in Baton Rouge?

I always thought Bruce Springsteen was the Boss. Not so in Baton Rouge, where the title is under contention, and Bruce isn't even a candidate.

At a corner on the way from the interstate to our neighborhood, Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers is building a new store. Like Federal Express, Cane's was a business school project brought to life. The concept--a fast food restaurant with essentially a one-item menu--fried chicken fingers. The first Cane's opened about 10 years ago in a run down property at the edge of the Louisiana State Univesity (LSU) campus in Baton Rouge. For whatever reason--friendly staff, hot food, simple operations--Cane's has been a big hit. The franchise first expanded into buildings left from failed fast food restaurants. Then they did well enough to design and build their own buildings, the latest of which will open soon about 1.5 miles from our house.

A new feature of this store is a giant red letter LCD sign. Other stores have been content with manual sign boards, but the owner must have figured that this one in a very high traffic location deserved something special. For weeks now while the store hires staff and prepares to open, the sign has rotated among its various messages - date and time; Opening Soon; and one of the franchises two main slogans "The Sauce is Boss" (many people, my daughter included, attest to this statement and the unique quality of Cane's "secret" barbecue sauce--their other slogan is "One Love"--referring to how Cane's and their customers love their one-item menu).

Sitting at this intersection at least twice a day, I soon tired of the Cane's sign and its repetitive message. I wasn't alone. The directly neighboring restaurant, a somewhat dingy establishment called Sherwood PoBoy (po boy = sub, hoagie or grinder where you may live), changed their sign to highlight their menu and to refute Cane's assertion about its sauce. Sherwood Po Boy's feisty message - "Catfish Plate is the Boss." I've only eaten at Sherwood PoBoy once, after I discovered that the ill-named Daiquiri Cafe across the street didn't serve any food, and I wasn't too impressed, though I didn't order their touted Catfish Plate. Still, I admire their spunk and sense of humor as they fight for survival against one of the marketing giants of Baton Rouge.

Oh yeah, unless you're from Baton Rouge, you may not know the origin of the franchise's name. Raising Cane was the founder's dog. He (the dog, not the founder) has passed on, but son Raising Cane II carries on the tradition. Sherwood PoBoy is on Sherwood Forest Boulevard. Their menu features poboys, despite the new exalted status of the catfish plate.


Anonymous said...

Raising Cane's and their sauce is very well known, and their moto is also. So instead of bashing this local restaurant you should support it.

dadlak said...

Thanks for your comment. I'm not bashing Cane's (though I'm not that crazy about their food). I'm saluting the little guy's spunk to take on the local marketing behemoth. And the scene made me laugh. Believe me, I support Cane's substantially through purchases for my daughter and on occasion her friends.

Anonymous said...

A marketing behemoth? We still think of ourselves as one of the little guys. Anyway, we enjoyed your interest in our sign and we will try to keep our messages as fresh as our chicken. Anyway, thanks for the mention. Email your address to (attn: julie) and we will get you an invite to the store's opening.

dadlak said...

Thanks for reading "dadlak", for the comment and for the invitation to the opening of the Sherwood Forest restaurant. I'm sure my daughter will love to attend if she can. In any event, Cane's new building (even with the sign) is a great improvement over the long-abandoned Shell station that blighted the site for many years.