Big Chicken, the star-powered fast casual chicken concept founded by legendary basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, announced today that the brand will expand its presence in Ohio in a BIG way. Through a 36-unit development agreement, accomplished entrepreneurs Kurt and Ryan Webb, Trever Einerson and Steve Crandall will bring Big Chicken to more markets across the state – starting with Columbus. 

“Our team is super excited to bring BIG flavor, BIG food and BIG fun to the people of Ohio,” says Ryan Webb, who will primarily oversee the operations of the ownership group’s restaurants. “When we first learned about Big Chicken, we were attracted to the idea of getting in on the ground floor of an inventive concept with a top-tier product. Collectively, we’ve been in the restaurant industry with other well-known [quick-service] franchises for a long time, and are excited to see where this agreement takes us.” 

Prior to ownership with Big Chicken, Kurt and Einerson cultivated backgrounds in real estate development, while Ryan and Crandall honed their operations prowess with several franchise brands in the QSR industry. With their wide breadth of expertise, the four franchise owners are in the process of selecting the site for their first restaurant, focusing on drive-thru or in-line build outs in the Greater Columbus area.

“Kurt, Ryan, Steve and Trever will bring a new level of operations sophistication and excellence to the Big Chicken franchise system, and we’re thrilled to have them on board,” says Big Chicken CEO Josh Halpern. “Our initial entrance into Ohio was strong – so much so that we’re growing BIG with 36 more. Here we GROW, Columbus!” 

In addition to the agreement with the business quartet, Big Chicken currently has  locations open in Las Vegas (Paradise Road and Tropicana Ave.), Los Angeles (Glendale and Valencia); Seattle; Houston; and in the Dayton, Ohio region, as well as in metro-New York’s UBS Arena, The Moody Center in Austin, ASU’s Mullett Arena, Palm Spring’s Acrisure Arena, St. Louis’s Busch Stadium, Kansas City International Airport and on three Carnival Cruise ships.

Along with O’Neal, the championship pedigree behind Big Chicken includes a pair of powerful ownership group partners, including:

  • Authentic Brands (ABG), a brand development, marketing and entertainment company, which owns a portfolio of iconic and world-renowned brands including Sports Illustrated, Elvis Presley and Forever 21.
  • JRS Hospitality, Las Vegas’ leading events and catering company with a reputation for hosting top tier parties, private dining and corporate gatherings at its iconic venues such as Cabo Wabo, Hexx, and Beer Park. 


Ideal franchisees are multi-unit operators who trust and understand the established system Big Chicken has in place and have the capital to open several units. Restaurant experience — whether traditional or not — is preferred, but not required. With significant interest from new owners, franchise investors will have the advantage to join a brand on the cusp of worldwide expansion.

Emerging Concepts, Fast Casual, Franchising, Growth, News, Big Chicken