Food trucks are a dietary staple for countless New Yorkers any hour of the day or night, and The Halal Guys is arguably one of the most well-known around the five boroughs — and beyond.
What founders Mohammed Abouelenein, Abdelbaset Elsayed and Ahmed Elsaka started in 1990 to provide halal food to Muslim cabbies has grown into a far-reaching empire with 51 locations from North America to Asia.
Halal Guys’ global domination has not gone unnoticed, and Restaurant Business magazine recently named the company the No. 1 fastest-growing restaurant concept on its annual Future 50 list.
“It was definitely surprising, and we’re certainly extremely grateful and humbled,” Director of Marketing Andrew Eck said.
Metro: Did the Halal Guys’ founders foresee this expansion from a cart to a worldwide franchise?
Andrew Eck: When they were operating the cart in the early days, there really wasn’t any kind of sense of the popularity they had. It was never about marketing or branding — their focus has always been about serving the customer in front of them and giving them great value and great food.
What challenges come with such extensive growth?
Making sure that every customer, regardless of location, receives the same experience, that same value and that same delicious food.
Does the menu adapt by location?
It’s 98 percent the same based on location and cultural preferences at our international locations, but we do trial potential menu additions and have minimal menu altercations.
In Canada, we’re about to undergo a test with poutine. People absolutely love our fries, so we have a version of that with fries, grilled chicken and a halal gravy. Our Philippine locations are testing chicken wings right now, and they had done a fish platter during the Catholic Lent season.
What’s the most popular menu item?
It has really not changed from the carts. System wide, I think about 70 to 75 percent of what we sell is one of our (chicken and beef gyro) combo platters.
What do you go through more: The white sauce or the red?
The white sauce is famous, the hot sauce is better described as infamous. The white is kind of our signature item. The hot sauce is uses sparingly at best, but both have notoriety for different reasons.
What’s your go-to order?
Typically, a small combo platter is my go-to. We just introduced our first-ever LTO, limited time offer, which is spicy hummus, and I’m a big fan of that as well. We used our hot sauce as the inspiration and created this really delicious version of our hummus.