Saturday, September 24 2022

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Shaquille O’Neal is thrust into business ventures after his NBA Hall of Fame career, and one of them is coming to Austin.

Better known as Shaq, his fast-casual chicken restaurant — aptly named “Big Chicken” — is said to have a place at the new Moody Center when it opens later in April. The location was first reported by Restaurant News of the Nation.

According to at the Austin Business Journala franchise contract in Texas has been awarded to three people who plan to develop 50 Big Chicken restaurants in Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.

Big Chicken opened its first store in Las Vegas in 2018 and later a location in Glendale, California. O’Neal is no stranger to sports arenas, which may be why he chose to open up shop inside two of them. Last year, he opened a store inside the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, home of the Seattle Kraken, a 2021-22 NHL expansion team. Then another inside UBS Arena, home of the NHL’s New York Islanders.

Besides sports arenas, O’Neal has found a way to personalize his business. According to CNBC, one of the Big Chicken’s sandwiches menu is called Uncle Jerome, after O’Neal’s uncle. Another is Charles Barkley, a nod to the former NBA star and O’Neal’s broadcast partner on “Inside the NBA.” Barkley’s namesake sandwich comes with macaroni and cheese over the chicken, along with crispy onions and “Shaq sauce.”

Big Chicken also features the MDE, which stands for Most Dominant of All Time, and is intended to describe O’Neal’s career at center, primarily for the Los Angeles Lakers. He was an eight-time All-NBA First Team and a three-time NBA Finals MVP.

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