Shaq's Big Chicken franchise looking for its 1st Lehigh Valley location
- Shaquille O’Neal's Big Chicken is expanding in Pennsylvania, with the Lehigh Valley as a key location.
- The Sidhu family, leading the venture, praises the region's diversity and positive community atmosphere
- The family was drawn to Big Chicken after seeing a video about its creation
BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Big Chicken, former NBA player Shaquille O’Neal’s fast-casual chicken restaurant concept, has announced a major expansion into Pennsylvania, and the Lehigh Valley is part of the plan.
Entrepreneurs Harsimrat and Shubreet Sidhu will be the family spearheading the brand’s growth across multiple markets in the state, with the Lehigh Valley identified as one of the targeted locations, Shubreet Sidhu said in an interview.
“The community in Lehigh Valley itself is so diverse that you'll see everyone; that diversity in Lehigh Valley is what gets to you.”Entrepreneur Shubreet Sidhu
“I would say Lehigh Valley was, for me, a new up-and-coming thing,” Sidhu said. “The community in Lehigh Valley itself is so diverse that you'll see everyone; that diversity in Lehigh Valley is what gets to you.”
She recalled having been to the Lehigh Valley and found the area “a very good community” in terms of its socioeconomic diversity, crime rates, and costs of starting a new business.
“It’s a perfect mix of the older community, the working class, the kids, and the families," she said. "People are there.”
Chicken sandwiches, all big, and more
Big Chicken offers chicken sandwiches — all of which, of course, are big — as well as chicken sliders, popcorn chicken, chicken tenders and Caesar and Cobb salads.
Its sides include its signature dish Lucille’s Mac ‘n’ Cheese; Sweet Potato Fries; Dirty Fries with cheese sauce, bacon, banana peppers and chipotle BBQ; and jalapeno slaw.
To Harsimrat Sidhu, a big and sloppy spicy sandwich is his favorite, while Shubreet Sidhu loves mac and cheese the most.
“Big chicken is all about BIG FLAVOR. And BIG FUN. That's the tagline,” Shubreet Sidhu said.
“When you're able to offer that whole Big Chicken concept to that community, it's going to work out."Shubreet Sidhu
“When you're able to offer that whole Big Chicken concept to that community, it's going to work out,” she said.
In addition to their favorable impression of the region, the Sidhus say working with Big Chicken also has been an easy process.
“When you click with somebody, and you feel the connection, that was the feeling with Big Chicken,” Harsimrat Sidhu said.
He said the inspiration to open a franchise came from a video on O’Neal’s Facebook page, where the basketball star made a reality show about Big Chicken and how the business came into existence in 2018.
“I would say 2020 is when I stumbled on the video," he said. "And at that time, I didn't find much information" on Big Chicken franchising.
“Last year, I started doing research again to see what we want to do because we were trying to expand into the quick-service restaurant industry.”
Is there a location yet?
The Sidhus say they are actively looking for a location in the Lehigh Valley, but no specific location has been determined.
“We are in talks with developers and real estate agents throughout the Lehigh Valley,” Harsimrat Sidhu said. “So we are [still] negotiating and considering options.”
“If any of your readers is a developer or has a location for us to consider, we are more than open to take suggestions and welcome any input that your readers might have.”Entrepreneur Harsimrat Sidhu
So far, potential locations include the Tilghman Street area and Airport Road in Allentown, and St. Luke’s campuses in Bethlehem and Easton, the Sidhus said.
They also said there are places under construction that have been presented to them.
“If any of your readers is a developer or has a location for us to consider, we are more than open to take suggestions and welcome any input that your readers might have,” Harsimrat Sidhu said.
As for the timeline for opening the new restaurant, the Sidhus said there hasn’t been an exact opening time, but “it is definitely going to happen” since they've signed the contract with the company.
“This is going to happen, absolutely. We’re not the type of people who back down,” Shubreet Sidhu said.
Aside from the Lehigh Valley, the Sidhus said they are also looking forward to opening Big Chicken in State College, Centre County, and in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton areas.
The restaurant chain now has locations in Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Seattle; Houston; Rosemont, Illinois; Dayton, Ohio; and in major venues such as UBS Arena in New York, The Comcast Center in Philadelphia and The Moody Center in Austin, Texas.