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Chicken mania strikes in Batavia

Long-awaited opening of Raising Cane's attracts large crowd

The Batavia High School Dance Team participated in the Jan. 23 opening ceremonies for the Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers restaurant at the corner of Randall Road and McKee Street in Batavia.
The Batavia High School Dance Team participated in the Jan. 23 opening ceremonies for the Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers restaurant at the corner of Randall Road and McKee Street in Batavia.

BATAVIA – A large crowd of people lined up in the falling snow this morning to be among the first to taste the chicken at the grand opening of the Raising Cane’s restaurant in Batavia.

They cheered as winners of the “Lucky 20” drawing were announced, entitling the recipients to a free chicken combo once a week for a year.

To the pounding beat of the Batavia High School Drum Line, the smiling winners each proceeded between two rows formed by exuberant members of the BHS Dance Team to claim their prizes.

“The chicken is so tender,” said Michael Webster of Geneva, who is a big fan of Raising Cane’s and was one of the winners.

“This is great,” said Webster, who has been a customer of the Cane’s Naperville restaurant and one in Minnesota.

Also winning was Heath Hatmaker of Schaumburg, another Cane’s connoisseur and who was well-rewarded for his long drive to Batavia.

BHS senior Beau Cunningham said he has never been to a Raising Cane’s before, but he will be eating there free for the next year after his name was drawn. But first, he said he needed to get to school.

Inside, the restaurant space was packed for the Batavia Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting ceremony with Mayor Jeff Schielke.

The Raising Cane’s is located on the southeast corner of Randall Road and McKee Street, formerly the site of the Avenue Chevrolet dealership.

Schielke said that decades ago, when Randall was still a two-lane road, the site had been a farm where chickens were raised.

“We’ve come full circle,” Schielke said. “We’ve got chickens back on this corner.”

Between the students, community leaders and ravenous chicken fans, there were at least 200 people participating in the grand opening celebration.

BHS Athletic Director Dave Andrews said the Batavia Booster Club, which supports athletic programs at the high school, has a sponsorship deal with Raising Cane’s.

The Dance Team members were wearing warm caps emblazoned with the Cane’s logo. They all received swag bags with Cane’s themed merchandise and gift cards for chicken combos.

BHS senior Kiersten Wydra, one of the Dance Team members, said she has two high school friends who have jobs at the new restaurant and that she will use her card to see her friends at work.

The Raising Cane’s menu is tightly focused on its signature chicken fingers and dipping sauce.

Sides include crinkle-cut French fries, Texas toast, coleslaw and dipping sauce. Drink choices are focused too, on lemonade, iced tea and soft drinks from the fountain.

Inside, there is seating for about 80 patrons. When spring comes, visitors will be able to enjoy their meals on a small outdoor patio.

More than half the restaurant’s business is expected to come from drive-thru customers, and the eatery is prepared, with two vehicle service lanes.

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