Josh Halpern of Shaq's BIG CHICKEN on BIG Fun and BIG Ideas Interview with Big Chicken CEO Josh Halpern about big fun and big work with Shaquille O'Neal, opening a restaurant in space, and moving as one team with one dream.

By Shawn P. Walchef

Key Takeaways

  • Grow the Brand, Grow the People - Josh Halpern has always been about building brands. To Halpern, his success is attributed to his understanding of the brand being a representation of the people building the brand. Throughout the various teams he has built there is a common thread of the people involved wanting to enjoy life and work.
  • Big Fun with Shaq - Shaquille O'Neal is a robust personality, and has an equally as robust business portfolio. Josh Halpern, fortunately, is able to see both while working with Shaq, who ensures that fun is involved in every business venture.
  • One Team, One Dream - Josh Halpern has had a journey that includes quite a few "you're not gonna believe this" moments, which started with him answering a call from an unknown phone number that began with a Las Vegas area code (702). That call led to him being a part of another successful team and changed his plans.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Josh Halpern, CEO of Shaquille O'Neal's Big Chicken, has a track record of building successful brands with successful teams. That's why Shaq, the Big Man himself, tapped Halpern to be Big Chicken's first top executive.

Big Chicken is a fast-casual restaurant chain that was co-founded by NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal. Big Chicken fuses Shaq's home-cooked childhood favorite foods with popular flavors of the day.

The CEO Josh Halpern is a builder of teams, systems, and people. He has a track record with successful brands and creating diverse teams with a common thread of enjoying work and life.

"Think about 'what is a brand?' A brand really is the people that build the brand," Halpern says to Restaurant Influencers host Shawn Walchef of CaliBBQ Media. "It's a type of person that wants to leave their jersey in a better place when they come off the field. Right? And that's really what I've sought to do."

A partnership with esteemed athlete and engaging media personality Shaquille O'Neal on Big Chicken has proven to align seamlessly with the common thread of the other teams Halpern has built.

"One of the things that they said before I got here is we're going to be about big fun and whatever that looks like..." says Josh Halpern about joining Big Chicken as its first chief executive officer.

One example of that mindset coming to fruition is Big Chicken having placement on Carnival Cruise Ships, where Shaquille O'Neal is officially the Chief Fun Officer.

"Working with Shaquille is unbelievable. It's a ton of fun. It's challenging. It's rewarding."

Before joining Big Chicken, Josh Halpern worked in various marketing and sales roles at companies like Anheuser-Busch. His career trajectory has been filled with big moments. And his path was changed forever with a single chance phone call.

"I just think back to that day in 2015," he remembers. "Random 702 number calls. Imagine if I don't pick up that call from Perry Rogers (JRS Hospitality)... I would be selling Budweiser somewhere in the US right now instead of doing what we're doing in Big Chicken. "

What they're doing is building a dominant food franchise with Big Chicken.

With Josh Halpern's unwavering leadership and Shaq's vision and spirit, Big Chicken is merely scratching the surface of what it will become.

Big ideas lead to big things.



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Wavy Line

Shawn P. Walchef is the founder of Cali BBQ Media, podcast host, business coach, and proud dad. Since opening Cali BBQ in 2008, he has grown his San Diego restaurant and media company into a global brand using digital tools and smartphone storytelling. 

As a restaurateur who opened during the Great Recession, Shawn learned to use the power of the Internet to stay in business. During the Pandemic, Cali BBQ developed a scalable growth plan that is three times more profitable than the traditional full-service restaurant model.
Email to get in touch.

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