Shaquille O’Neal is one of the few basketball players who beat Michael Jordan in the playoffs — albeit it was while MJ was wearing No. 45. And while Jordan and his partners at Cornerstone Restaurant Group are planning to open a steakhouse in South Korea (No, North Korean “ambassador” Dennis Rodman isn’t involved), Shaq has opened a chicken restaurant near Jordan’s home court.
At the latest location of Shaq’s fried chicken chain, Big Chicken, customers have routinely lined up to try sandwiches and popcorn chicken in suburban Rosemont. Customers were in line at 10 p.m. the night before the restaurant opened on Tuesday, July 11, according to a spokesperson. The chain has locations in 13 states and the location at 9437 W. Higgins Road joins a store near Dayton, Ohio as the only ones in the Midwest.
A second location is planned for Schaumburg at 1245 N. Roselle Road, according to the Daily Herald. Both locations will be run by franchisee Vishal Patel, which, as a news release describes, was “once one of the largest franchisees in the 7-Eleven system.” Patel has partnered with Level Construction to build the Rosemont space.
The shop is collaborating with Stan’s Donuts on a sandwich that uses a maple-glazed doughnut as a bun. The Spicy Chicken Stanwich is Nashville hot and available for a limited time.
While Jordan and his six rings open a steakhouse overseas, Shaq and his four rings have embraced fried chicken. It’s already been the subject of a reality show and it’s on a Carnival cruise ship. One of the sandwiches is named “Chicago” — topped with Buffalo hot sauce, blue cheese, and slaw. Of course, Shaq never played for the Bulls but explains in a video that “Chicago” isn’t a place. It’s a person and refers to Anthony Hall, the actor who accompanied Shaq, Anfernee Hardaway, and Polk High School alum Ed O’Neill in Nick Nolte’s classic Blue Chips. Shaq, of course, played “Neon” Leon Boudeaux, who was “totally raw” and needing the guidance of Nolte’s Coach Pete Bell.
Most notably, Shaq played with the Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, and Miami Heat. He’s found a post-playing home as an analyst as part of the NBA on TNT crew with Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Ernie Johnson. As part of his post-playing shenanigans, Shaq has also served as a spokesperson for Papa John’s. This being ESPYs season, Shaq was too busy to attend the Rosemont opening and his PR team said the Big Aristotle (another of O’Neal’s nicknames, and also a sandwich name) was not available for an interview.