The struggle for companies nationwide to fill positions during the COVID-19 pandemic wasn't the only motivator behind the initiative, according to Raising Cane's management. The company was also trying to expand.
In October 2021, this purported side effect of America’s shortage of hourly workers due to the COVID-19 pandemic circulated as a claim on social media feeds: Raising Cane’s had supposedly ordered its corporate staff to ditch their office duties to work as cashiers and fry cooks at the fast food chain’s restaurants.
The rumor was factual, though deserved some added context. Bloomberg was the first to report on the business decision in an Oct. 5 story:
Starting this week, about half of Raising Cane’s office employees will work as fry cooks, cashiers and also help with recruiting in the chain’s restaurants across the country. The Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based company, with 530 locations, is trying to hire 10,000 new restaurant workers in the next 50 days.
“It’s no secret that today’s hiring market is a challenge,” said co-Chief Executive Officer AJ Kumaran in a statement. “Ahead of our massive growth next year, having the support we need is critical.”
In other words, while it was true the Louisiana-based company deployed corporate staff to restaurants to work on the front lines, the nation’s weakened labor market due to the coronavirus wasn’t the only reason behind the initiative. The chain was also attempting to expand. The Las Vegas Review Journal reported it was planning to add more than 100 restaurants in new markets in late 2021 and early 2022.
“There are many different reasons coming together,” Kumaran told that newspaper. “We could use a lot more help right now.”
After Bloomberg’s story, several news outlets reported on the staffing change in October 2021. (See CNN’s story here; Louisiana Radio Network’s reporting here; Ohio’s WSYX article here; The Las Vegas Review Journal’s story here; Business Insider’s reporting here; Los Angeles’ ABC 7’s story here, for examples.) Snopes also reached out to Raising Cane’s communication team, and we await a response.
Ultimately, the initiative would deploy about 500 corporate employees from its Dallas office to restaurants nationwide — half of whom would work as cashiers or cooks and the other half would attempt to boost local recruitment efforts, according to CNN. The company was paying for them to stay at hotels for one or two weeks.
Kumaran explained further in an interview with Nation’s Restaurant News: “In some cases, where you don’t have enough applicant flow, [corporate staff] are trying to drum up applicants — holding job fairs and interviewing people and helping recruit and helping on-board and orientation,” he said. “In some other cases, they simply need to give a break to the shift manager who’s now being stuck on the fire.”
Wearing a red Cane’s polo, he worked several shifts serving customers at a restaurant in the Las Vegas area, according to the Review Journal. He said all corporate employees at some point undergo cashier and kitchen training, no matter their job title.