People who know Lupe Villarreal would say he’s not “chicken” about sharing his restaurant’s profits with charitable organizations and community-building efforts.
Villarreal recently opened the new Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers in Flower Mound.
“We do this because in my mind, we owe it to the community we serve,” Villarreal said.
Raising Cane’s is in the midst of a rapid expansion across the nation. Since its founding in 1996, the Louisiana-based chain is known for its “One Love” quality chicken finger meals and has also been distinguished by its generous support of the communities it serves.
Villarreal supports a wide variety of organizations, from local churches and schools to entrepreneurial endeavors and fundraising initiatives. One of his recent contributions enabled five children from Northview Baptist Church in Lewisville to attend a mission trip.
“We try to focus on giving back to various organizations in order to fully support the communities we serve,” Villarreal said.
Raising Cane’s is an active sponsor of both Marcus High School and Flower Mound High School. Cane’s also supported Flower Mound’s Independence Fest celebration on the 4th of July. And, Villarreal and his crewmembers recently volunteered at the Flower Mound Humane Society, helping to clean and organize the facility.
“Active support of our local communities is ingrained in Raising Cane’s DNA, so you’ll see us getting more and more involved with events, schools and other non-profits throughout Flower Mound in the months and years to come,” said Villarreal. “We’re just scratching the surface now.”
As a multi-unit managing partner (which means he has a vested interest in the locations he runs), Villarreal see his workers evolve into responsible young adults.
“Our business model relies heavily on a workforce of kids and for many of them this is their first job,” Villarreal said. “Most of them live in a three-mile radius from the restaurant.”
Fostering that “local feel,” while empowering teenagers in their first career experience, might have something to do with his locations having one of the lowest turnover rates in the business. Villarreal said his turnover rate is around 40 percent, while industry standards are approximately 140-150 percent.
“One goal is to create an environment that I would be happy to have my kid in,” Villarreal said. “I started washing dishes at 16 and just fell in love with the intensity and the pace of the restaurant business.”
Villarreal said that although he graduated from University of Texas-Dallas with the intent to eventually practice law, the restaurant business pulled him right back.
Aside from the passion for his business, the community support proves very rewarding. Villarreal not only wants customers to visit his restaurant, but to let him know if they have an organization or cause in need of assistance.
“It’s about making a difference … most people go to work and can’t really put a value to that,” he said. “Seeing the faces of the people when we help support them and receiving thank-you letters, it makes you become emotionally involved and see where your efforts are helping them.”
The new Flower Mound location sits at 3205 Justin Road near the southeast corner of the intersection of FM 407 and FM 2499, behind Lowe’s Home Improvement.