Bakersfield sure loves a grand opening — especially when a meal is on the table. So it's no surprise that Raising Cane's drew a bustling crowd when it opened Tuesday.
Located on Coffee Road slightly north of Rosedale Highway, the new restaurant is next to a new Buffalo Wild Wings, which may get tired of customers of the other chicken spot taking up its spaces.
Parking is something to get out of the way even before discussing the food. There were security staff at each side of the Cane's parking lot inquiring if your purpose was "dine-in or drive-through?" If the former, you were encouraged to find a spot wherever; the latter were directed where the line had been split to avoid clogging the exits.
(There's no telling how long the restaurant will staff security to direct traffic but In-N-Out on Stockdale Highway could sure use their services to avoid some dust-ups I've heard about.)
Since the cars were backed up in the drive-through line both times I attempted to pick up food, I opted to park far away and walk in. The dine-in line snaked out the door but the friendly staffer said as she was handing out menus and answering questions that the line moved pretty quickly. And it did.
There was just enough time to eavesdrop on a couple who were newbies but excited that they'd be able to quickly take their food to go as well as group behind me, a mix of uninitiated and Caniacs, ready to chow down.
For those who have never been to a Raising Cane's, the menu is very simple — as in five combos that explain everything. The box combo ($8.35) is a good starter, the worker told me, because it has a bit of everything: four chicken fingers, crinkle-cut fries, coleslaw, Texas toast and Cane's sauce.
Although I had never eaten at the chain, I avoided the rookie move of not having enough sauce and ordered an extra. The wait time to order was about 10 minutes, only slightly longer than the time it took for the food to come out.
The meal was good, with crispy-battered chicken that partnered well with the sauce. Fries were well-salted but a little soft, probably the result of steaming in the box in the drive from the restaurant back to work. The toast had a good crunch and the slaw was on the sweet side, a good balance for the saltier fare.
I also tried the fresh-squeezed lemonade that was good enough to make me understand why they keep it behind the counter. No wasteful refills.
Raising Cane's is at 3224 Coffee Road. Hours are 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday.