Big Chicken, the star-powered fast casual chicken concept founded by Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, announced that current Big Chicken franchisees Steve Christensen and Reid Richards have partnered with their longtime friend Ohio restaurateur Mike Craddick, signing an agreement to bring three Big Chicken locations to the Dayton area. The first of the three restaurants will be located at 10655 Innovation Drive in Miamisburg and is targeted to open in early summer.

“When we originally signed on to bring Big Chicken to Arizona, our ultimate goal was to expand into additional markets,” says Christensen. “We’ve known Mike for several years through our other restaurant investments. He’s a fantastic operator, and being that he’s local to the area and knows the market well, we knew he would be a great partner in bringing Big Chicken to Dayton.”

As former multi-unit franchisees of 15 Five Guys locations in Western New York and current franchise owners of the breakthrough brunch restaurant concept Another Broken Egg Cafe in Gilbert, Arizona, Christensen and Richards have spent the last 13 years together owning and operating restaurants. They recently announced their agreement to open 12 Big Chicken locations in the Greater Phoenix area and also have plans to expand into Utah and Idaho with the brand. Christensen and Richards met Craddick eight years ago through his ownership of several Five Guys and Another Broken Egg locations in Ohio. With over 30 years of experience in the Dayton retail market and ongoing success owning and operating several restaurant franchises in the area, Craddick is the perfect addition to the Big Chicken team and will be an equity partner for the Arizona, Utah and Idaho Big Chicken locations as well.

“We love having Steve and Reid as our franchise teammates in Arizona, and are so happy they introduced us to Mike. All three are committed to ensuring the guest has a great experience through strong operations,” adds Big Chicken CEO Josh Halpern. “I’m excited to see what they can do together in the greater Dayton area.”

When the first restaurant in the Dayton Area opens, it will join a rapidly expanding brand, which currently includes locations in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena, metro-New York’s UBS Arena, Austin’s Moody Center and on two Carnival Cruise ships. In addition to the Ohio deal, Big Chicken is expanding into nine other states and has more than 150 locations in its development pipeline.

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 Reebok. ABG owns the Shaquille O’Neal brand in partnership with Shaquille O’Neal.

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, News