The purpose of the Center for Entrepreneurship's Nebraska Distinguished
Entrepreneur Award is to recognize entrepreneurs in the state of Nebraska who represent
the ideals of Nebraska small business ownership. These recipients have started or
substantially grown a business in Nebraska and are currently contributing to the
economy of the State and/or their own local communities. They are nominated by past
award winners, members of the Center for Entrepreneurship's Advisory Board
and the Dean of the College of Business Administration here at UNL, and inducted
into the Nebraska Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame. We are proud to honor them as models
of Nebraska entrepreneurial excellence.
At the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Business Administration, the Entrepreneurship
Hall of Fame recognizes alumni from the University of Nebraska, as well as other
business members throughout the state for achieving distinction and excellence as
creators and builders of new business enterprises.
Founder, Chairman, and
CEO Fry Cook and Cashier
Previous Entrepreneur in Residence
Todd Graves is a passionate and motivated leader, widely recognized for his entrepreneurial
accomplishments. Graves is the founder of Raising Cane's, opening his first restaurant
in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1996. Graves has worked in the food service industry
for over 15 years, focused specifically in quick service. Through his determination
and leadership, Graves has taken Raising Cane's from a single unit concept to an
exciting and growing 70-unit chain in thirteen states. In the past eleven years,
Graves has focused on opening successful restaurants, hiring great people and strategically
building his organization and brand. His efforts have resulted in building a solid
operational, organizational and financial foundation for growth.
In the past eleven years, Graves has led his team to incredible achievements. These
include defining and articulating Raising Cane's culture and values, securing financing
for restaurant development, defining and identifying brand standards, developing
prototype models and implementing systems and processes for operations, human resources
and training. Currently, Graves is very actively involved in developing Raising
Cane's growth vehicle for the future – franchising. Graves is committed to the ongoing
growth and development of Raising Cane's into an international Chicken Finger brand.
As a result of Graves and his team's passion and commitment, Raising Cane's has
been recognized numerous times by industry leaders and pace setters. Raising Cane's
was honored as an "Emerging Concept" at the Elliot Conference in New York (2002)
and was chosen as a 2003 Hot Concepts! award winner by Nation's Restaurant News.
Graves and Raising Cane's received the National Restaurant Association's Good Neighbor
Award in 2006, and were recognized as one of the top 100 movers and shakers by
Fast Casual magazine. That same year, Raising Cane's ranked 335 in Restaurants
and Institutions' "Top 400 Restaurant Chains" list (climbed to 267 in
2007), and was second on Restaurant Business magazine's list of "The Future
50". The concept was also highlighted among the restaurant industry's "Best Places
to Work" in Chain Leader magazine's 2007 Best of Issue. Most recently,
Raising Cane's was named to Inc. Magazine's top 5,000 list of fastest growing privately
owned companies. Cane's earned the 1,048th spot among all companies and
is ranked 15th in growth in the food and beverage industry, and second
overall in the state of Louisiana.
Graves entrepreneurial spirit has been recognized in Nations Restaurant News, Chain
Leader, Entrepreneur, Rolling Stone, and Teen People magazines.
He appeared live on Fox News Network's "Your World" with host Neil Cavuto in the
wake of Hurricane Katrina and is slated to be highlighted on CNN Headline News'
"Pulse on America" series. Graves was featured in Entrepreneur's Young
Millionaires cover story. He has been recognized by the Baton Rouge Business Report
and Junior Achievement as the "Young Business Person of the Year" for 2002 and was
the recipient of Baton Rouge Business Report's "Top 40 Under 40" award
In addition to his work at Raising Cane's, Graves is an active member of many national
and local organizations including the National Restaurant Association, Young Presidents
Organization, Share our Strength and the local food banks. Graves currently serves
as a member of the Alexis de Tocqueville Society of the United Way.
A cum laude graduate of the University of Georgia, Graves resides in Baton Rouge
with his wife Gwen and daughter Sophia and son Charlton. In addition to spending
time with his family and his dog Raising Cane II, Graves enjoys fitness and other