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Raising Cane's CEO: We're not going to hurry back and reopen stores

Heidi Chung

The COVID-19 pandemic has been ripping through the world and caused countless businesses to shut their doors to prevent further spread of the virus.

Even with more than one million cases in the U.S., some businesses, including restaurants, could slowly start reopening as a handful of state authorities lift lockdown measures.

But Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers is in no rush to open its dining rooms to customers. “Whether the authorities say on ‘X’ day you can reopen, and you shouldn't go off of business pressure. All businesses have that business pressure to get reopened. You should go off to where you can execute an extremely safe way to open your own restaurants,” founder and CEO Todd Graves told Yahoo Finance in an interview Wednesday.

Raising Cane's chicken sandwich. (Nick Kindelsperger/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

“Since our customers can get our chicken fingers through our drive-thrus, we're not going to hurry back,” he added. Raising Cane’s currently has about 500 stores across 28 states, and only 13 locations do not have drive-thrus.

While there is certainly no rush, Graves estimated that most restaurants could be open by June 1. Customer and crew safety are his top priorities. “I caution these restaurants that are going to open too quickly if they're not ready.”

COVID-19 put severe pressure on business at Raising Cane’s. Sales dropped 30% over the last three weeks but have since improved. “Through the drive-thru we got quicker, we got more proficient, and went from 30% [sales drop] to 25% to 20%, and now we're actually even with our original forecasted sales. Other restaurants that don't have the drive-thru, my heart goes out to them, but thank goodness we haven't laid off any crew.” The chicken chain employees about 23,000 workers in the U.S.

Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung.

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