Raising Cane’s, a fast-food restaurant specializing in chicken fingers, is coming to Springfield as part of the company’s aggressive expansion plans.

“We’re very excited to be planting such strong roots in Illinois,” said Jason Zwerin, vice president of company restaurants. “So far, our 21 restaurants in the state have been very successful, and we’re planning to open 15 more this year and next just in Illinois.”

Raising Cane’s began opening locations in the Chicago area in 2017 and is now expanding further downstate.

“Our plans right now are to go at the corner of Wabash and Veterans,” Zwerin said, confirming the company plans to demolish the building at 3100 W. White Oaks Dr. that is currently occupied by Casa Real and build a new restaurant that will include a drive-thru.

Jose Lopez, owner of Casa Real, said he has signed a lease for the former Quaker Steak & Lube restaurant in Legacy Pointe. “I think it’s time to get away from all the restaurants on the west side. I see this as investing in the future, moving out toward SCHEELS,” he said. “We’ve all got our fingers crossed, but I think it’s looking a lot better this time,” he said of plans for other development in the area.

Quaker Steak & Lube opened its first Illinois location in October 2011 at 1121 Lincolnshire Blvd, just south of SCHEELS. The restaurant closed abruptly less than three years later, with corporate representatives citing the previous harsh winter, the economy and delays in building a planned outlet mall nearby. More recently, the Springfield City Council approved incentives to help construct the $65 million SCHEELS Sports Complex, which is scheduled to open in the summer of 2023.

Lopez said he plans to vacate his current location by June 1 and reopen in Legacy Pointe by mid-June. “The property is pretty much ready to go,” he said, noting that it already has a drive-thru window.

While the exact construction timeline for Raising Cane’s has not yet been finalized, Zwerin said Raising Cane’s plans to have its Springfield location open sometime in the second quarter of 2023. He also noted that each restaurant is tailored to that particular community.

“We want to be known globally but have a very local presence and identity. You will see things very specific to Springfield in our dining rooms.”

Zwerin also said the company typically hires around 100 crew members for each new location. “We’re creating good-paying jobs, we start at $15 an hour and shift managers earn $18 an hour,” he said.

Todd Graves opened the first Raising Cane’s in 1996 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, across from the Louisiana State University campus. The company is now headquartered in Dallas, Texas, and has approximately 600 locations. Raising Cane’s plans to open 100 new locations across 10 new markets in the coming year.

“We’ve got some great opportunities coming up, and we’re excited about becoming part of Springfield,” said Zwerin.