Earlier this week, a Triangle Blog Blog correspondent noticed a very unusual sign tacked to the outside of the future Raising Cane’s space. It was a new “emergency contact list” featuring the number for UNC’s emergency medical services. We anticipate the emergency contact will come down when construction is completed, but also recognize it could be useful to anyone eating deep fried chicken. You can see it here:

raising cane's emergency contact list
raising cane’s emergency contact list

This raises more questions than it answers. And we have a lot of questions about Raising Cane’s, such as whether this is the most expensive fried chicken related construction ever conducted in America. The location in Downtown Chapel Hill is not anywhere close to being ready, despite workers appearing to be excavating the floor and replacing the entire foundation of the building.

Ross Martin tweet

Some Backstory: The Raising Cane’s property, which was formerly Spanky’s and then Lula’s, was purchased in 2021 and the signs announcing the restaurant went up in 2022. Construction began in April 2022. It’s now June 2023. Raising Cane’s told the Daily Tar Heel they’d be open this spring. A brief stop work order was conducted earlier this month. Wooden signs outside the building are spraypainted with the numbers 2024.

What the cluck is this fried chicken restaurant doing?

We cannot imagine that chicken fingers bring in enough money to recoup the cost of this investment. Are they magic? What are we missing? (If you know, let us know: [email protected])

How much fried chicken would each person in Chapel Hill need to eat to cover the costs of the building construction?

To pay off the $2 million in estimated construction costs, according to the commercial permit filed with the Town of Chapel Hill, every person in Chapel Hill will have to eat 32 chicken fingers (approximately.) This assumes the average person eats 3-4 chicken fingers per meal, which means each and every Chapel Hill resident (including infants) will have to eat 11 meals at Raising Cane’s for them to pay off this construction bill.

Is it possible the construction workers are digging for treasure?


Not likely. The building was first built in 1902, and quickly turned into a grocery store followed by a skating rink. It’s also been a movie theater, another grocery store, a drug store, and then Spanky’s. There’s a detailed history of each iteration on the (always-fascinating) Open Orange County website. There’s no hint of treasure.

The building in 1932

Does Raising Cane’s serve breakfast?

They plan to open at 9am and close at 3:30 am – a long day! – but don’t appear to have a breakfast menu. Who eats chicken fingers at 9:30 in the morning? When will this store open? What about the Bojangles that recently opened?

All questions we have. If you know any of the answers, email us: [email protected] with the subject line: Calling Fowl on the Theranos of Chicken Restaurants.

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Melody Kramer is a Peabody-award winning journalist whose work has appeared on NPR and member stations around the country, as well as in publications ranging from National Geographic to Esquire Magazine....