Big Chicken, the star-powered, fast casual chicken restaurant franchise founded by basketball Hall of Famer and celebrated entrepreneur Shaquille O’Neal, announced today that the brand has inked a big 45-unit deal that encompasses Orlando, Tampa, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami.
Joining another deal that will place 40 units in the northern half of the state, the Central and South Florida territories included in this agreement close out availability of the brand to restaurant franchise investors. It is a massive achievement for Big Chicken, pushing the concept’s franchise development pipeline to more than 200, and coming exactly one year after announcing the launch of its franchising strategy.
Accomplished Florida commercial hospitality development company DMD Ventures completed the deal with Big Chicken. This multi-unit, multi-brand ownership group owns and operates in a variety of industries with a specialization in high-profile brands.
“At the time, we weren’t looking to add another franchise brand to our portfolio, but when we came across Big Chicken and looked into the concept, it became a no-brainer,” says Fred Burgess, principal, co-founder and co-CEO of DMD Ventures. “The ownership behind Big Chicken includes powerhouse players in the marketing and hospitality industries, and Shaquille is one of the most trusted and respected entrepreneurs in the world. Plus, we love the food! So, with all of those elements combined, it made it extremely easy to become passionate about the brand.”
Owning and operating several successful franchise concepts including Twin Peaks, Papa Johns, IHG Hotels and Go Minis Portable Storage as well as shopping centers, DMD Ventures is a team of attorney’s, developers and hospitality leaders that have over 50 years of experience accelerating growth across its portfolio. At the core of their leadership are Co-CEOs Fred Burgess and Jack Flechner, who each bring extensive legal and hospitality experience to the table. Both Burgess and Flechner have served a tenure as President of the Twin Peaks Franchise Association and are regular speakers at franchising conventions. Austin Hester serves as DMD Ventures’ Chief Operating Officer and is a 20-year multi-unit hospitality industry veteran with expertise in evolving operations, training systems and brand development. Together, the trio’s experience sets Big Chicken up for BIG success in the Central and South Florida markets.
“At this significant milestone for Big Chicken, we can’t help but reflect on the relationships we’ve built with our incredible franchisees like Fred, Jack and Austin. Each group understands Shaquille’s vision and we’re incredibly lucky to have them onboard for this journey with us,” says Josh Halpern, CEO of Big Chicken. “200 units sold in one year is an unbelievable achievement, and I can’t wait to see what this next year has in store for Big Chicken. LET’S GROW!”
Curating a taste of O’Neal’s childhood with high-quality fresh ingredients, Big Chicken is making headlines as the hottest fast-casual chicken brand across the country. Its initial franchise investment opportunity put a focus on talented multi-unit restaurant operators to expand the brand into America’s most highly-visited vacation, entertainment and shopping destinations.
“There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’, and we’ve got just about the greatest team out there,” says O’Neal. “Their dedication and passion have helped Big Chicken grow into major markets and now we have yet another fantastic group joining the family. Welcome to the team, DMD Ventures!”
In addition to the agreement with DMD Ventures, Big Chicken also has plans to expand into the West Texas, Central Oklahoma, Chicagoland, Arizona, Nashville and Greater Los Angeles markets. Existing locations are currently open in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and in the Dayton, Ohio region, as well as Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena, metro-New York’s UBS Arena, The Moody Center in Austin and on two Carnival Cruise ships. Tailored for skilled restaurant owner/operator groups, the franchise investment has been designed to align with successful, multi-unit investors who want to become part of Shaquille’s dream team.