Big Chicken CEO Josh Halpern told QNS the restaurant chain hopes to open up new locations in New York City and on Long Island as early as 2023. Halpern said opening a new location in Queens is a top priority and specifically mentioned Bayside as an ideal location.
Founded in 2018, Big Chicken quickly found success in its initial Las Vegas location. This was in large part thanks to its partnership with former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal, who has invested both time and money to ensure the restaurant chain’s success and growth. In recent years, Big Chicken has begun to expand to the eastern United States, with locations opening in Philadelphia and Atlantic City. Additionally, Big Chicken has a location in UBS Arena, which has seen a lot of success, according to Halpern.
Many Bayside residents seemed open to the idea of the chain opening a location in the neighborhood. Most recommended the Bay Terrace Shopping Center as a potential location, as it acts as a central hub for the community and likely has the space for Big Chicken. Halpern told QNS that in addition to the Bay Terrace Shopping Center, they were also considering Bell Boulevard and Northern Boulevard as potential spots. He hopes to soon find partners willing to have the location set up on a property that would also be easily accessible to the community and has the approval of local officials.
“We’re looking for franchisees in the New York Metro Area,” Halpern said. “We’ve been considering the nature of what areas make sense. People want to see a huge track record of success. It’s been a great opportunity for us to work with the New York Islanders [at UBS Arena] and we’ve become the highest-selling concession there. We’re looking to tailor local communities.”
In addition to Shaq, Big Chicken is also backed by JRS Hospitality and Authentic Brands Group. The restaurant fuses Shaq’s home-cooked childhood favorites with today’s trending flavors. Halpern believes there is little doubt Shaq’s status as a beloved figure as well as his promotion of the chain has helped contribute to its swift growth. This has also extended to Bayside residents who would like to see a location come to their area.
“Shaq is one of the most respected NBA players out there,” one Bayside resident told QNS. “I wouldn’t mind him opening one of his chain stores in the neighborhood. [I think it’s] probably best on Bell Boulevard.”
If a location is established in Bayside, Northern Boulevard, Bell Boulevard and the Bay Terrace Shopping Center each offer factors that make them ideal locations. There is a lot of foot and vehicle traffic in each of these areas, making it attractive to a large amount of people. Additionally, one local resident said the Bay Terrace Shopping Center could benefit from having another chicken-themed restaurant.
Halpern raved about Shaq’s ability to promote products like Big Chicken. He even gave an example of Shaq using the promotion of another product, Google Workspace, to advertise his product. For Big Chicken and Google, it was a great match, as the business uses Google Workspace.
In addressing the potential for Big Chicken coming to Bayside, Bayside Village BID Executive Director Christine Silletti discussed the many great restaurants in the area. However, she also emphasized the importance of the quality of the food in addition to the promotion of it.
“Bayside is very supportive of its businesses and the people who work in them,” Silletti said in a statement to QNS. “Bayside Village in particular has a number of well-known restaurant owners and chefs like Willie Degel of Uncle Jack’s, Maria Petridis of Maria’s Mediterranean, David Arias of Spanglish and Ols Thomas Nasti of Taverna Kyclades. While fame might bring a customer in the first time, what brings them back is the food.”
In addition to partnering with the Islanders to have a location in UBS Arena, Big Chicken has also partnered with Carnival Cruises, with locations within multiple cruise ships.
“Shaq gets involved [with the business] on a weekly basis,” Halpern said. “He reviews innovation and talks about the product. He looks to tie his corporate social responsibilities with his community efforts. He is the guy you see on TV.”