The Big Piece is returning to first base at Citizens Bank Park this season as the fried chicken restaurant partly owned by Ryan Howard is opening a concession stand at the ballpark.
Colbie’s Southern Kissed Chicken will be on the main concourse right behind first base, the spot Howard manned for more than a decade with the Phillies. The “Big Piece” sandwich — a homage to the nickname Charlie Manuel gave to Howard — will be the signature item.
“I kind of just threw it out there like, ‘Man, I think it would be really cool to have the restaurant inside the ballpark. That would be amazing,’ ” Howard said. “Here we are. They’re giving us the opportunity. I thought it was very, very cool to have it on the first-base side.”
Colbie’s is a fast-casual chain featuring chicken sandwiches, wraps, salads, and milkshakes started by brothers Mike and Craig Colby along with celebrity chef Fabio Viviani. Howard’s signature chicken sandwich is topped with bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickles, American cheese and garlic aioli on a sweet Hawaiian bun.
“Hey, it’s on point,” Howard said. “It’s a big sandwich. You might need a cot afterward. I always feel like I want to take a nap after I go there.”
Howard invested with Colbie’s after receiving a phone call from former Phillies reliever Chad Durbin, who knew the Colby brothers. They opened their first restaurant in March 2021 in Mount Holly and expanded last fall to Newark, Del. Colbie’s will soon open a spot in Kissimmee, Fla. near Walt Disney World.
“I loved the concept,” Howard said. “I loved the tasting of the food and seeing something from the ground up and watching that take shape. Getting with those guys and having conversations and tasting the food, I wanted to try my hand in that area.”
Howard spent 13 seasons at Citizens Bank Park, has the most career homers in the ballpark’s history and played the second most games among all players at CBP. He won a World Series there in 2008, accepted the 2009 NLCS MVP Award and was a powerful force during an era that made Citizens Bank Park a great place to be.
The ballpark already is a special place to Howard. And now he’s returning to South Philly for a new chapter.
“It’s been a staple for me,” Howard said. “Spent a big majority of my life there, and my two daughters were born in Philadelphia so Philadelphia will always be a special place and always be a second home. I adopted the Philadelphia sports teams; the Eagles are my squad and I always watch the Sixers. Philly is also going to have a special place in my heart. It provided so much for me and my family. So many life moments and opportunities. They took a chance on me, a kid from St. Louis, and I just tried to make the most of it.”