How Many Big Chicken Locations Does Shaquille O’Neal Have? Exploring The Numbers After Latest Michigan Announcement

Published 12/09/2023, 6:30 AM EST

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2024 is going to be all about chicken sandwich mogul Big Diesel. The Shaquille O’Neal-driven Big Chicken Shaq has at least 300 locations on the roadmap in development and slated for opening next year. Shaq and his team of professionals are rapidly signing deals, filtering franchisees, scouting locations, and growing nationwide.

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Big Chicken started as a Shaq-only business. In 2021, they reconfigured into a franchising business, bringing on Josh Halpern as the CEO. Within a year, they confirmed 200 franchises. What started with 18 stores will be 17 times that in a year, including one of the first locations in Michigan.

2024 is the year of the Big Chicken

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Exciting news came for Michigan residents this week. After signing a deal with H&D Group Investments, the first of 20 units is opening in the state. Two of the locations are confirmed and slated for opening in 2024. The first restaurant will open in Linden Road in Clio in early 2024. Another in Highland will open in spring. 18 additional restaurants in Flint, Saginaw, Lansing, Mount Pleasant and Metro Detroit are in the works.

Since opening in 2018 in Las Vegas, O’Neal has operated a handful of Big Chicken locations with his restaurant group, JRS Hospitality. It expanded to Carnival Cruise Lines, Busch Stadium in St Louis, Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, and UBS Arena in New York.

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Big Chicken has had humble starts in Arizona, California, Maryland, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington and counting. CEO Josh Halpern makes the franchisee filtering process tougher than an Ivy League application process. Although 200 franchisees are confirmed, he rejected 3000 applications.

 

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The Chicago suburbs got its first Big Chicken in July with the Rosemont restaurant opening for business. Another Midwest location opened in Kansas while Missouri boasts a Big Chicken in the Kansas City International Airport terminal along with the Blues stadium.

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The first of three Ohio restaurants opened in Miamisburg in April and another is coming in Columbus. They’re signing more expansion deals and announcing future locations, many slated for 2024 opening. Shaq doesn’t just have his trusty team helping him there.

Big Chicken is the O’Neal Family business

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The menu is already centered on Shaq’s childhood favorites, mostly his mother, Lucille’s recipes. His loved ones also get special mentions in dish names. Not only does Lucille check in at Big Chicken restaurants, but Shaq’s kids are also getting involved.

With locations in Austin and Houston, JRS signed an expansion deal to open 50 units in Texas where the nostalgia-themed menu is a big hit. They found partners and franchisees to open restaurants this year. A Houston unit’s opening drew a large crowd, forcing the fire marshall to shut it down.

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Shaq’s daughter, Taahirah, is a Houston resident. Always involved in her dad’s businesses, she hosted a Friendsgiving event with a giveaway at a Big Chicken near here. After the Richmond store opened in August, locations have also been earmarked in Central Texas. A Big Chicken is set to open at Clear Creek Road in Killeen in early 2024.

More locations are confirmed in Massachusetts, Arizona, and Poconos, among others. And it’s only the beginning of Shaq’s Big Chicken empire.

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Written by:

Caroline John

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I was 7 when I saw 'Space Jam' but didn't know till the third rewatch the lead actor is actually a living basketball legend. It was while studying journalism that my friend would go on about the Warriors from Golden State. Keen on athletes' personas outside their arenas, it was Stephen Curry's confidence and philanthropy that drew me to follow the news on NBA pros and explore sports media.
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Edited by:

Pragya Vashisth

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