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March 10, 2023

Shaquille O'Neil's Big Chicken to open in Comcast Center concourse

The former NBA star's franchise, known for its massive sandwiches and cookies, is eyeing an April launch

Food & Drink Fried Chicken
Big Chicken Shaq Philly @bigchickenshaq/Instagram

Shaquille O'Neil's expanding restaurant franchise Big Chicken is coming to the Comcast Center concourse in spring 2023. Shown above is the Big & Sloppy, one of the chain's signature sandwiches.

Shaquille O'Neil didn't cultivate his 7-foot-1, 324-pound body by following the volumetrics diet. Neither does the menu of his growing restaurant chain, Big Chicken, which is set to open this spring in Center City.

The NBA legend's fried chicken concept, founded in 2018, is heading to the concourse of the Comcast Center at 1701 JFK Blvd.

Big Chicken is known for its 5-ounce, crispy chicken sandwiches that can only be described as absolute units. The Big & Sloppy, a standout on the menu, is packed with layers of mac & cheese, crispy fried onions and roasted garlic BBQ aioli. The Big Aristotle overflows with strips of bacon and sweet and smokey Memphis BBQ sauce, while the M.D.E. ("Most Dominant Ever") keeps it basic with chicken and pickles.

Sides at Big Chicken include fries and Lucille's mac & cheese, named after O'Neil's mother. There are also shakes, ice cream sandwiches and a giant cookie whose circumference is the size of a basketball.

Big Chicken has opened 18 U.S. locations since its debut in Nashville, but has several more on the way. The franchise at the Comcast Center will be overseen by Oak View Group and Brûlée Catering.

Shaq has long been one of the NBA's most prominent investors, adopting the philosophy that he'll only put his name behind brands that he personally uses and would recommend. In the restaurant world, he's franchised Krispy Kreme, Five Guys, Auntie Anne's and Papa Johns over the years. 

Big Chicken is Shaq's first restaurant venture that enabled him to partner with an ownership group and design his own menu. The opening of the business was the subject of a reality TV show on Facebook Watch.

"We’re excited to introduce Philadelphians to Big Chicken and hope they come with a BIG appetite," said Ken Gaber, president of OVG Hospitality.

Big Chicken's entry into Philly is part of a recent boom in fried chicken concepts coming to the area, including Louisiana's Raising Cain's and the Los Angeles chain Dave's Hot Chicken. Love & Honey, the fried chicken restaurant in Northern Liberties, also recently announced plans to begin franchising.

The Comcast Center concourse, located below the company's headquarters, is also home to Chef Jose Garces' expanding Buena Onda concept and several other local brands, including Philly Steak Co., DiBruno Bros. and Termini Bros. 

Big Chicken is expected to open in April.