Big Chicken, a fast casual concept founded by Shaquille O’Neal in 2018, is opening its first franchise location this week at Austin Landing, a mixed-use retail, restaurant and entertainment destination in Dayton, Ohio.
“From the beginning, a major goal for Shaquille and the leadership team has been to give as many people as possible the opportunity to enjoy our menu and the Big Chicken experience. Franchising has given us a strategic pathway to make that happen,” Big Chicken CEO Josh Halpern said in a company press release. “We will not stray from aligning with best-in-class franchise partners…operators who have the skills and desire to channel the brand essence that Shaquille designed with his co-founders Matt Silverman and Matt Piekarski. We have developed an incredible team of franchisees in our first year of franchising.”
Under the ownership of Steve Christensen, Reid Richards and Mike Craddick, the Dayton store will be the first of three locations to open in the area. Collectively, the trio has owned and operated over 30 franchised restaurant locations and has over 60 years of combined industry experience.
“We could not be more excited to introduce Big Chicken to the Dayton area,” Craddick said in the release. “As a brand that stands apart from all others, and is already making waves, it’s a privilege to be opening its first franchised location in a market with such strong potential. The hype in the community is building and we know locals will be blown away by the unique and delicious menu items we have in store.”
The Ohio store capitalizes on the brand’s momentum since opening its first two locations in Las Vegas and Los Angeles in 2018. In 2021, the chain announced its franchising opportunity, geared toward investors interested in multi-unit operation, which has led to deals for over 150 planned locations across nine states. Stores will open by year’s end in Las Vegas; Houston; Valencia, California; Gilbert, Arizona, and Renton, Washington.
Big Chicken has also landed a partnership with Delaware North to open restaurants in state-of-the-art sports and entertainment venues such as Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena, metro-New York’s UBS Arena and Austin’s Moody Center.