Todd Graves first started dreaming of his very own restaurant in the early 1990s. Craig Silvey, an initial partner in Todd's plan, was enrolled in a business plan writing course at LSU at the time. They wrote the business plan and Silvey turned it in, for which Silvey received a "B-". Although the business plan was rejected numerous times by potential investors, Graves set out to earn the money he needed to start the restaurant, first by working in refineries in California, then by fishing for sockeye salmon in Alaska. He and Silvey then obtained an SBA loan, which they used to open the first restaurant in Baton Rouge at the intersection of Highland Road and State Street near the LSU campus. They even drew on the help of friends and family for some of the work on Cane's #1, and many of these names are carved in the restaurant woodwork. Originally, the small restaurant competed against a similarly themed drive-in called Bailey's Chicken Fingers on the opposite end of the campus. By 1999, however, it was able to prove itself the more successful business, as it forced Bailey's out of business, becoming the only chicken-finger focused restaurant on campus.
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