In a restaurant scene where pretenders are chewed up and spit out, a chicken concept with championship pedigree is set to soar in Chicagoland.

Big Chicken, the star-powered fast casual chicken restaurant franchise founded by legendary Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, announced today that highly-accomplished Chicago-area entrepreneur Ken Patel has signed an agreement to open the area’s first Big Chicken restaurant in Rosemont. 

“I know what it takes to make it in Chicago, and Big Chicken is built to thrive in this market. I looked at the concept from every which way, and the brand hits on all of the important factors…taste profile, menu innovation, marketing, operations, franchisor support and a strong real estate strategy,” says Patel, who previously owned eight 7-Eleven convenience stores throughout Chicagoland. “I was blown away the first time I visited Big Chicken. As a business owner, I know the importance of providing an unrivaled experience, so I’m confident Big Chicken will quickly become one of Chicagoland’s most craveable restaurant spots.”

Once one of the largest franchisees in the 7-Eleven system, Patel brings with him nearly 20 years of business ownership experience in the convenience store model. Big Chicken expands his franchise investments into the restaurant industry, and continues his suburban Chicagoland franchise investing and operating strategy. Demonstrating his knowhow and prominence in the Chicago area, Patel also served as the president of the 7-Eleven Franchise Owners Association of Chicagoland (FOAC), one of the largest franchise owners associations in the country. He provided support to franchisees as needed to help them become as successful as possible, and was responsible for sharing important information from the 7-Eleven corporate office so franchisees were always in the know. 

“Ken has an extremely impressive background and his knowhow in running great businesses is fantastic. We’ve hit it off with him and can see him and his location becoming a staple of the Chicagoland restaurant landscape. He is exactly the kind of franchisee we want growing the brand with us,” says Josh Halpern, CEO of Big Chicken and the architect of the brand’s growth strategy. “We have an aggressive growth strategy targeting high-profile U.S. regions and you can’t find a better market than Chicagoland to make our Midwest debut and give The Windy City a taste of Shaquille’s homegrown recipes.” 

With existing locations currently open in Los Angeles Metro, Las Vegas, two Carnival Cruise ships, in Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena and at New York’s UBS Arena, the Big Chicken franchise opportunity is tailored for skilled restaurant owner/operator groups like Patel. The franchise investment has been designed to align with successful, multi-unit investors who want to become part of Shaquille’s dream team. 

“We are so excited to welcome Big Chicken’s first Midwest location this fall and introduce its delicious chicken sandwiches to Rosemont’s residents and visitors alike,” says Rosemont Mayor Brad Stephens. “The 2,610-square-foot venue will join Stan’s Donuts and Small Cheval as we welcome the next generation of quick casual restaurants to Rosemont this fall.”  

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