There’s a little New York in our San Francisco. And it tastes pretty good.
Halal Guys, arguably the East Coast’s most recognizable street eats company, opens its first San Francisco brick-and-mortar outpost on Friday, Jan. 27, at 340 O’Farrell St., the former home of Naan-N-Curry.
Consider it one step in the brand’s ongoing global takeover, part of 450 planned locations worldwide. Halal Guys opened in San Jose last year, and is planning locations for Berkeley and the South Bay.
Halal Guys hysteria in the Bay Area has been bubbling since 2015, as word spread it was heading west, among other places. The excitement hasn’t waned in 2017, even with Nobu going to Palo Alto, French Laundry finishing its renovation project and China Live set to debut.
The menu is simple: Popular items are chicken or gyro sandwiches ($7.99) and combo platters ($9.99).
According to Ahmed Abdrabo, Halal Guys CEO and son of one of the original founders, San Francisco food diversity drew him to the area. That, and finding the right business partners.
“The Bay Area was appealing for us because of its foodie culture,” Abdrabo said. “We were also fortunate enough to have had an incredible franchise partner (Binh Tran) step forward and express interest in developing the area,” he said.
Tran is working with Tom Nguyen, master franchise owner of the San Francisco, East Bay and Las Vegas locations.
In the past, when food chains had their West Coast awakening, they usually bent to California sensibilities by throwing region-specific items on the menu. Not at Halal Guys. Abdrabo said the O’Farrell Street menu is exactly what you’d get in New York. The same can be said for future destinations.
This is because the Halal Guys concept is rooted in simplicity.
Founded by three Egyptian immigrants — Mohammed Abouelenein, Ahmed Elsaka and Abdelbaset Elsayed — Halal Guys first opened in the 1990s as a hot dog cart in Manhattan, on the corner of 53rd Street and Sixth Avenue.
Once they moved to halal dishes, they changed the perception of New York street food, broadening it from hot dog water and white onions to gyros and white sauce.
Their growth in popularity never stopped. But within the ascension over the years, there may be room to tweak the business model, Abdrabo said. The idea is to listen to the people buying the food.
“While we always want to be true to who we are and what made our fans so passionate about our food, we also owe it to them to listen to their feedback,” Abdrabo said.
For now, it’s all staying the same because people keep coming. The hummus ($4.99), baba ghanouj ($4.99) and baklava ($2.49) will eventually do what they’ve done for years in New York — attract loyalists.
Abdrabo said it’s seeing those lines and hearing how people are willing to wait for a dish that keep him going. He said he’s witnessed over time that their food crosses cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
“We owe it to them to ensure they have the same high-quality experience when they visit one of our restaurants,” he said.
There’s a little New York in our San Francisco. And based on the initial reactions, it looks like we’re OK with that.
Halal Guys, 340 O’Farrell St., San Francisco; (415) 549-3454 or www.thehalalguys.com
- Larry the Cable Guy Opens Up on Potential Future ‘Cars’ Projects with Pixar, Disney (Exclusive)
- Guy Fieri is in quarantine with 400 goats, a peacock problem and a plan to help restaurant employees
- Flooded with applications, Guy Fieri's restaurant relief fund crashed in less than a day
- 'To trust and back myself': The Voice contestant Chynna Taylor reveals the advice Guy Sebastian gave her
- Larry the Cable Guy Would Be Happy to Return as Mater in Pixar's Cars 4
- Charlie Hunnam Celebrates 40th Birthday with Sweet Video Tribute from Guy Ritchie — Watch!
- Michelle Money's ex reveals daughter Brielle has pneumonia but is 'trying to open her eyes' following head trauma: 'I can't believe it'
- Guy Fieri Pitches Ultimate Fast & Furious Spinoff
- The Rock Is Totally on Board with Guy Fieri's Fast & Furious Spinoff
- 'He's still my guy': Sandra Lee opens up about her relationship with her ex Andrew Cuomo, revealing she and the NY governor talk daily abut the coronavirus fight and neither of them are dating other people
- Emotional ER nurse admits she feels like she is being 'punished' for being the 'good guy' as she reveals she had to send her three-year-old daughter to live with a friend amid the pandemic
- Michelle Money says daughter Brielle is 'making huge progress' as she tries to open her eyes after medically induced coma: 'Things are moving fast'
- 'Family Guy' Creator Seth MacFarlane Blasts Laura Ingraham Over Coronavirus Shutdown Tweet
- Rep. Guy Reschenthaler: China Co-Opts U.S.-Funded Institutions Like WHO
- Tiger Woods' chances at The Open, and maybe any title, look over after plus-7 78
- US Open: Bopanna-Qureshi lose to Bryan brothers
- Tearful Danish star Caroline Wozniacki is serenaded as she ends career at Australian Open
- Emotional Rory McIlroy feels 'love' in dramatic late Open bid
- Coachella to drop documentary at the moment festival would have opened before coronavirus suspension
- First look inside Disney’s new Star Wars attraction before it opens to the public tomorrow
Halal Guys open first outpost in S.F. have 991 words, post on www.sfchronicle.com at January 25, 2017. This is cached page on Movie News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.