Thursday, August 11, 2022




."We are different.”

“We’re basically the Chipotle of the Middle Eastern food.”

The food cart at 53 Street on 6th Avenue declares this to differentiate itself from many carts of similar name seen in Manhattan,New York. They  sell delicious  and  mouthwatering  food from Middle-East .Everything is fresh and clean. Everything is prepared before your eyes. At the 53rd Street in Midtown Manhattan, the "Halal Guys " carts serve  gyros, sandwiches, and platters to a steady line of patrons from 11 am to 5 am say for 18 hours non-stop .The chicken sandwich, pita brimming with shredded chicken, lettuce, and the signature white sauce, is completely delicious and affordable  at $8.

Even if you grab your plate, you have to decide where to eat with the plastic fork. You have to select a spot  to sit down .  One can see people sitting on the rim of the small fountains in front of the Crédit Agricole building on the west side of the Sixth Avenue. These fountains have the imposing sculpture of a female torso created by  artist Jim Dine in 1989 . This sculpture looks like a variation of  the 'Venus de Milo'. Titled "Looking Toward the Avenue” ,one can see customers of Halal Guys sitting on the stone  enclosure of  this sculpture.

You can see  office workers grabbing foil platters to eat back at their work  desks. Some like it standing. I  saw some carrying their food to  their homes or public parks and eating it at their convenience. The  aromas coming from the "Halal Guys" carts are tempting. The pedestrians get tempted to give this food a try. Those waiting  in the line for buying feel  the wait will bring gastronomic pleasure .

The "Halal Guys" is a company now that sells through various outlets and  franchise arrangements in various locations across the US . It has opened a franchise  in  Phillipines as well. Many new entrants to the  restaurant business opt the franchise route  created by the parent company the  'Halal Guys'  instead of striking out on their own. The" Halal Guys"  allows them  to use the brand’s name, likeness, menu, and other intellectual property in exchange for  fees or ongoing royalties . Rather than going through a risky  trial-and-error  route to find out what works and sells in the market  , the entrepreneurs  follow an established and  successful business plan.  They also get full  support from the “Halal Guys” ,the parent  company in the areas of  advertisements , finding trusted suppliers, and establishing operating procedures. The company has introduced  ‘Halal Food’ concept in the US  via a fast ,casual  and street restaurant format.

Initially started in Manhattan for immigrant  drivers  who were mostly from Middle-East, Egypt, Turkey, Iran , the 'Halal Guys ' carts now  cater to many segments of the American  society. However , their ninety  percent  customers  remain the Muslim immigrants .  From  Manhattan, the " Halal Guys"  moved to many other cities in the US. Started by three young  Egyptian immigrants , who travelled to the United States in a  hope of a better life .These three young immigrants , Mohammed Abouelenein, Abdelbaset Elsayed, and Ahmed Elsaka   set their sights on becoming a true American entrepreneurial success story. Starting in 1990 from selling ' Hot Dogs'  from  their cart in  Manhattan ,the Halal Guys introduced items like chicken and gyro over rice to the street food of  America. In most places, the 'Halal Guys ' carts open around 11am and remain busy for the day till early morning of the next day . Most of these franchise carts shut down for 6 to 7 hours from 4am  or 11 am. The  carts are there for your lunch and late night dinners.

We met a regular customer of the ' Halal Guys ' at 53 Street during our visit to the MOMA or the Museum of Modern Art in Midtown Manhattan. He told us this:

" Not the cart  you see at the construction site . This original 'Halal Guys'  cart. This  tourist neighbourhood  that why Sheraton and Hilton hotel this side. Look that side , There these hotels . You get me. Hey gentleman .  These cart guys go little free this moment. Later no time  when too many customer coming. They busy  busy till 1 o'clock night . Very busy. This special cart at 53 Street 6th avenue under this  stone art. I go daily customer . Here tourist ,office worker , shop employee, driver , student and all come  taste cheap ,fresh and healthy Halal food. You  taste . Taste gyro, pita with humus , chicken platter, falafel or Vegan special if you Vegan . You want  ?  He go prepare special.   He my friend . Taste very special  white sauce . The  ' Halal Guys ' company  owner three    guys . They start  1990 . That time truck  and taxi driver go their customer.  They Egyptian guys. The original guys  come more than 30 year. They go restaurant dish washing. They  go cooking chef . They go  restaurant helper hands . They go truck driver. Hard work. Sincere . No cheating. They make final' Halal Guys ' company  start in Manhattan . Now many cities .America great country. It make you happy if the guy go for  hard work , truth, simple and no cheating. Everybody  come here this cart   Turkish, Iranian, Indian,  Bangladesh, Latino, African American, Arab, Europe guys and Asian peoples. You get me.  Chinese come  little little. They  their cooking like. These guys here   using chicken,  meat, chickpea , rice floor, coconut oil, soya  powder, lettuce. tomato, lemon, spice, herb, beets, mushroom, Paprika and many other things. When you finish ,you eat  special Bakalva .Sweet sweet yummy. You Latino or Indian?  Madam look  Indian. The dress say that. "

" Thanks for information "

"  You Waalcom "

The present management of the " Halal Guys"  declares this :-

" Through hard work, determination, perseverance, and dreaming big, our founders have paved the way to take delicious American Halal Food mainstream. These restaurant industry visionaries understand and appreciate what has made them successful, and they give credit to where it all began: with their original, loyal NYC customers and tourists that made us famous."

( Avtar Mota )

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