Big Sharks Fish and Chicken is coming to Springfield. Sajed Qattoum, a Decatur native, opened his first location in Decatur in November 2019, just a few months before COVID took a toll on the restaurant industry.

“The takeout business really boomed at that time; we’ve been busy from the start,” Qattoum said.

Now he’s signed a lease for 330 South Grand Ave. in Springfield, which most recently housed Audi’s Café & Gaming. Owner Audrey Austin operated her own restaurant for nearly a year after parting ways with her business partner, Necole “Nickey” Alexander, in July 2021 and closing their joint venture, Nickey’s Southern Style Kitchen.

Despite the current challenges in the industry, Qattoum said the restaurant business comes naturally to him. “I started in our family business when I was around 15, 16 years old. We had a meat market and also served fried chicken. That’s how I got familiar with the food industry.”

He’s planning to open the Springfield location by November, following a complete interior remodel of the building plus some exterior improvements. “We’ve started construction already, we’re ordering equipment and doing the planning,” Qattoum said. “We’ll also paint the outside of the building and do some updates to the parking lot and landscaping.”

In addition, Qattoum said he is planning to open a second location in Decatur later this year and a location in Champaign by next summer.