In the competitive world of fast food, one NBA legend is making his mark by challenging the long-reigning Colonel Sanders. Shaquille O'Neal, known for his towering presence on the basketball court, is now dominating the chicken business with his brainchild, Big Chicken Shaq.
What started with just two dozen locations has exploded into a nationwide phenomenon, with hundreds of new locations in the pipeline. O'Neal's vision? To make Big Chicken accessible to every corner of the country, and he's leaving no stone unturned.
Not content with traditional brick-and-mortar expansion, O'Neal embarked on an unconventional journey by partnering with Carnival Cruise Line. He joined the leadership of the cruise line, taking on the role of "Chief Fun Officer" (CFO) – a title that perfectly matches his larger-than-life personality.
This partnership opened up exciting new opportunities for Big Chicken Shaq, including a presence on Carnival Radiance, a cruise liner bound for Spain in 2020. This collaboration was the beginning of a fruitful partnership between the branding mogul and the $17 billion cruise giant.
Big Chicken's Pandemic Resilience & Expanding Empire
The pandemic may have temporarily delayed their plans, but once the seas were safe again, O'Neal's Big Chicken became a sensation on the cruise. It was a testament to the brand's ability to spread joy, which is at the core of Big Chicken's mission.
In 2021, O'Neal's associates at JRS Hospitality brought in Josh Halpern as CEO to spearhead Big Chicken Shaq's expansion into the franchise business. The result? Deals were signed to open over 500 locations in Texas, with an additional 20 in Michigan.
Houston recently welcomed its first Big Chicken franchise, and Boston is next on the list. Approximately 300 more locations are currently in development, showing that O'Neal is only getting started. But it doesn't stop at traditional storefronts.
Big Chicken has made its way into sports arenas, with outlets in Seattle's Climate Pledge Arena and St. Louis' Busch Stadium, providing fans with a delicious alternative to traditional stadium fare. In Texas, customers can grab a pre-made meal box at a Big Chicken kiosk and pay with a simple QR code, streamlining the ordering process.
O'Neal is also actively working on a drive-thru concept to further enhance the customer experience. With Big Chicken's rapid growth and O'Neal's entrepreneurial prowess, it's clear that the former NBA star is well on his way to becoming a highly successful restaurateur.
As he continues to expand his chicken empire, one thing is certain: Shaquille O'Neal is giving the Colonel a run for his money.