The Halal Guys, a chicken and gyro franchise from New York City, celebrated the opening of their first Boston location at 137 Stuart St. in the Boylston Theatre District on Friday.
Serving an array of halal food including gyros, rice and combo plates with a Middle Eastern flare of hummus, baba ganouj and even desserts like baklava, the restaurant is set to be a popular addition to Boston’s Middle Eastern food scene after its large turnout on Friday.
Imran Asghar, the co-franchisee of the Boston franchise, said that the chain had started in 1990 as a food cart in New York City, which was still up and running at the West 53rd Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan.
“[The Halal Guys] started franchising in 2013 initially, and we got it [their first franchise] out in 2014,” he said. “This is our first location in Boston, and our 55th worldwide.”
Asghar added that the Halal Guys had spread across the globe to 16 different states and five countries outside of the United States. He also said that there were several more branches of The Halal Guys that are planned to be opened in Boston and across New England in the coming months.
“We’re very excited for this first day, the grand opening day. When we did the marketing, we kept a lot of giveaways, and I think that has helped attract a lot of crowd,” he explained, evidenced by the first 1,000 customers received various promotions and freebies, and five individuals among them having the chance to win a month of free food from The Halal Guys.
“People know the brand from the other states, and they know they food is good, so they don’t mind waiting in line,” Asghar said.
He noted that the line outside the door started developing at 8 a.m., three hours before the store was supposed to open at 11 a.m. Jake Mellen, a sophomore in BU’s College of Arts and Sciences, was among the excited few who attended the grand opening.
“My friend and I went at 10:30 to wait in line for the grand opening at 11,” he said. “The line wasn’t too long when we first got there, but eventually it got pretty long,”
Mellen added that “it took us only about 15 minutes once the clock hit 11 to get our food.”
At one point, the wait time in the lines reached over 45 minutes, and The Halal Guys staff handed out umbrellas and water bottles to the dedicated customers waiting in line.
Among others, Mellen was full of praise for both the atmosphere and the food.
“The atmosphere was amazing, but the food was even better,” he said.
Asghar’s partner and co-franchisee, Rabi Ullah, explained why they had chosen to take a franchise of The Halal Guys in the first place. Ullah emphasized the fact that the branch was exactly the same as the New York City original in every way possible.
“It was the halal concept that spoke to us,” Ullah said. “It’s a very popular brand across the U.S. and all over the world.”
Asghar said that Boston’s high population of youth was one of the major reasons behind choosing it as a place to expand, noting that he was delighted with the turnout.
He said, “We’re very very excited, very motivated and hope to host our guests the way they expect it.”