Shaquille O'Neal is wasting absolutely no time expanding his recently opened fried chicken restaurant to cruise lines.
NBA all-stars have a few options after they’ve made their millions playing professional sports: they can sit on their millions in the form of investments, they can start a charitable organization, or they can decide to keep going and become a coach.
Another option is to open a fried chicken restaurant in Vegas and document the whole ordeal through a video series on Facebook. That’s the option Mr. O’Neal has taken with his “Big Chicken” restaurant.
The restaurant itself is pretty standard-fare soul food with crispy fried chicken sandwiches all named after various nicknames the 7-foot, 1-inch basketball star picked up over his many years in the NBA. There’s also chicken strips, a few salads, and because it’s Las Vegas, an entire page devoted to various alcoholic drinks.
Even though the restaurant itself has only been open for a few weeks, O’Neal is a savvy enough businessman to know that dry land isn’t going to be a good long-term investment what with rising sea levels. So he’s getting in on the ground floor of ocean-going habitation by shacking up (no pun intended) with Carnival Cruise Lines and opening a sea-level branch of Big Chicken.
The first-ever Big Chicken location to open on a ship will be on the Carnival Radiance, a 102,000-ton ship currently undergoing refurbishment in Cadiz, Spain. Carnival expects the Radiance to be seaworthy in 2020 after spending $200,000 in renovation and refit costs.
Although O’Neal is technically the boss of his restaurant and is overseeing the construction of the Radiance-based franchise location, he’s not exactly what you’d call… professional.
“As Chief Fun Officer, I want to bring even more fun to every aspect of a Carnival cruise, including what guests eat,” said O’Neal in a statement. “Big Chicken has been a dream of mine and now that our land-based restaurant is open, it’s only natural to bring it to sea, as well. I’m really excited that Carnival Radiance guests will be able to enjoy my own delicious creations alongside all the other great food offerings on board.”
The expansion will be located on the aft Lido Deck, will serve an updated version of the same menu available at the Vegas location. Unlike in Vegas, which only opens for lunch and dinner, the at-sea location will also do breakfast, serving items like chicken and egg biscuits.
In addition to Shaq’s restaurant, the Radiance will also feature Guy Fieri’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse, a classic American steakhouse called Fahrenheit 555, the Cucina del Capitano family-style Italian restaurant, and the Caribbean-inspired RedFrog Pub.