Exciting news for foodies across Southwest Louisiana as NBA Hall of Famer and former LSU star Shaquille O'Neal is set to extend his Big Chicken restaurant chain into Lafayette and Lake Charles. This expansion, as reported by Adam Daigle at the Acadiana Advocate, marks a significant step for the rapidly growing brand.

Lake Charles-based franchisees, Gul and Vick Awan, have announced their partnership with the celebrated athlete's business venture. The first location will open in Lake Charles, with subsequent outlets planned for the Lafayette area. The specifics regarding the exact locations and opening dates are yet to be disclosed, keeping the anticipation high among fans of both Shaq and the chicken brand.

Big Chicken, Facebook
Big Chicken, Facebook

Big Chicken is renowned for its array of tantalizing chicken sandwiches, salads, and sides, offering a unique culinary experience. The brand's popularity is evidenced by its presence in 15 states and on Carnival Cruise ships, making it a well-recognized name in the fast-food industry. Notably, Big Chicken has already made its mark in Louisiana with a location inside The Queen Baton Rouge Casino, which has seen a successful run.

The Awans, who already have a solid presence in the local food industry through their Baskin-Robbins and Dunkin' locations in Lake Charles, are now set to bring their operational expertise to Big Chicken. Their involvement is seen as a boost to the franchise, with Big Chicken CEO Josh Halpern expressing excitement over their "sophisticated operational approach" and "commitment to excellence."

Gul and Vick Awan are going to bring a new level of operations sophistication and excellence to the Big Chicken franchise system, and we’re excited to have them on board.

As Lafayette and Lake Charles await the arrival of these new Big Chicken locations, this expansion is the latest in a growing trend of athlete/celebrity-owned businesses making their mark in the area.

Locals know it's common to see Shaq around Lafayette, but this new development only connects his star power to the local dining scene.

See the full story via The Acadiana Advocate here.

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