EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - It was not a dark and stormy night, but it was a cold and rainy day when the Halal Guys opened their first location on the East Coast outside of New York City. Did the people of East Brunswick mind? Heck, no! There was a line of more than 100 people before the slated 11:00 opening. Mostly millenials waited cheerfully, hoping to score some swag, and be the first to ask for extra white sauce on their gyros or combos, to order a side of hummus, or to go "All American" and ask for French fries.
The Halal Guys started as a curbside cart food service in Manhattan one 53rd Street and 6th Avenue, catering mostly to Muslim cab drivers looking for fresh and easy-to-eat Halal munchies during their long night shifts. The signature red and yellow signs, bags, and balloons at the opening date from these days of yellow cab customers in NYC. This Saturday, though, the Halal Guys came to New Jersey, opening their first East Coast location. The East Brunswick restaurant is one of a few opened worldwide in places like Chicago, Houston, and Manila in the Phillipines. Shortly, the Halal Guys will open over 300 locations around the world.
Why East Brunswick? According to the location manager, "80,000 cars pass this location every day. We have lots of 'hard core' fans in the neighborhood. We hope that students from Rutgers will stop here and that local people who want Halal food will, too." 2,000 people were expected for the opening day. For the past few days, there have been lines for the store, too.
Customers were greeted by rocking DJ's who pumped up the volume and the energy. The staff had been trained for a big event and they stepped up to the task working with efficient good humor.
The opening of Halal Guys is part of the regrowth of businesses on Route 18. The opening of the Toy-R-Us store in the same mall was the biggest opening worldwide for the chain. Halal Guys management took the traffic, the success of new local businesses, and the growing interest in "faster" (as opposed to mass-produced "fast" food) into consideration when selecting the East Brunswick location.
Last week, Mayor McEvoy and other local officials attended the opening information session about the Halal Guys. The Halal Guys held their VIP opening and ribbon cutting last Friday, April 29 in the TOYS R US shopping Center on Route 18. Owners and their staff of eager cooks and waitstaff welcomed East Brunswick Mayor Kevin McEvoy and various other town and district dignitaries to help assist in the ribbon-cutting festivities.
The owners felt East Brunswick would be the ideal location for their first store in the Garden State due to the ease of getting to the store via route 18 from either south of East Brunswick, where towns such as Old Bridge, Manalapan, Marlboro, and points south have a large population of residents who desire and require dishes prepared with Halal meats. The same can be said North of Route 18, where a large population in Edison seek out Halal foods.
Loyal fans who attended the opening included people who were well-warned about the power of the Halal Guys red sauce, but who were ready to take the challenge. The enthusiasm at the opening and the energy of the crowd spoke loudly of the pride locals take in this new business.
Mosty, though, they were waiting to chow down on the quality food that has made this food cart business become an international sensation.