The Halal Guys restaurant opened on Halsey Street in Newark less than three weeks ago, but it’s already proving to be an enormous success, with lunchtime lines that snake inside the eatery.
“Being so close to New York, a lot of people here are familiar with us,” said Nazmul Huda, owner of the Newark Franchise. “We’ve built a loyal customer base in Newark in less than a month.”
Started by Mohamed Abouelenein in 1990, The Halal Guys originally began as a hot dog cart until switching over to their current menu featuring Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food options such as gyros, chicken over rice, or pita bread.
In that time, the Halal Guys restaurant has exploded in popularity and has expanded rapidly. There are some some 200 locations open or planned, both nationally and internationally, including California, Virgina, Texas, and in countries including Canada, Indonesia, and Philippines.
The Newark location has proven to be a hit with college students, workers, and residents. On Facebook, the Newark franchise alone has over 15,000 followers, consistently growing their reputation.
“I’m happy it’s here, especially in downtown,” said Lucy, 23, a student at Rutgers University who had been to the first New York spot. “It’s great to have a diverse amount of selections in the area.”
Huda, along with investors of the Newark location, came into contact with The Halal Guys after learning of the company’s plan to franchise, eventually signing an agreement for a franchise in Newark.
“We thought this location would be a good place to set the tone for future locations. With all the development in this city, it’s great to be a part of it.” Huda said.
The restaurant opened in new Prudential Financial office complex, which offers numerous storefront locations along Halsey and Broad streets. A QDOBA Mexican restaurant, located next to the Halal Guys, opened last year along with a dry cleaners and a small newstand/smoke shop. The storefronts along Broad Street remain vacant.
Among the 200 locations the restaurant has planned, various restaurants are to be located in New Jersey towns, such as Princeton, New Brunswick, and Montclair.
Huda, who grew up in New York, was one of the earlier fans of the halal food trucks in the city as they became popular, alongside Joseph Hafez, the general manager of the restaurant.
“We grew up eating this stuff in New York. When I was approached for a job, I was really excited because I was familiar with the concept.” Hafez said.
As the owners of the restaurant look forward, they have many plans for the future, such as discounts for students, senior citizens, and police officers. There is also initiative for catering for events, which would possibly increase the recognition of the brand in Newark.