Fast-casual fried chicken restaurant chain Big Chicken, which is co-owned by famous basketball player Shaquille O’Neal, will open a location in the forthcoming Moody Center arena sometime in the spring. Its menu includes fried chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders, and sides. O’Neal opened the original location in Las Vegas in 2018, as detailed on his Facebook Watch reality series Big Chicken Shaq.
Tracking Austin food events
Several food events focused on specific dishes or drinks are in the works for Austin this year:
First, there’s the Chili Cold Blood Chili Cook-Off on Saturday, January 29 at the Sagebrush. Chili entries are being accepted through Thursday, January 27 at 5 p.m. The judges will decide the best chili, and also on deck will be live music performances. Entry is $5 donations, which will go towards the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, in honor of Nick Curran, an Austin musician who died in October 2021 from cancer. The 14th annual event runs from noon to 6:30 p.m.
Second, there’s the Mimosa Fest taking place on Sunday, February 13 at Empire Control Room and Garage. General admission tickets are $15, which includes one mimosa, and VIP tickets at $45 with three mimosas, a shirt, and early entry.
Finally, there’s the Bloody Mary Festival on Sunday, February 27 at East Austin venue Fair Market. Attendees and a panel of experts will try and pick their favorite Bloody Mary made by various people, bars, and restaurants, including Yellow Jacket Social Club, the Cavalier, and Hillside Farmacy. It runs from 1 to 3:30 p.m. with VIP access starting at noon. General tickets are $49.50 and VIP tickets are $67.50. The event, in its third year, will benefit nonprofit Boneshaker Project.
Temporary food truck closure
The Austin location of Atlanta-based bubble tea Pearl’s Tea and Austin-based bakery Sweet Elephant are closed temporarily after January 16 due to personal reasons, as noted on Instagram.
Texas burger company consolidation
Austin-based burger chain Hopdoddy Burger Bar bought Bryan, Texas-based chain Grub Burger Bar in mid-January. The resulting company is now called HiBar Hospitality Group, with private equity company L Catterton.