Halal Guys Food Cart to Open Brick-and-Mortar Shop, Possibly With Juice Bar

By Serena Solomon on October 1, 2013 8:33am 

EAST VILLAGE — The Halal Guys chain of popular food carts is opening its first brick-and-mortar store soon in the East Village — and it may include healthier options like a juice bar and vegetarian dishes, the owner said.

The eatery, scheduled to open in the first week of November at East 14th Street and Second Avenue, will serve The Halal Guys’ famously cheap meals of gyros, falafel and chicken over rice, while also offering some more nutritious items, co-owner Khalid Ahmed said.

"I don't eat halal every day," said Ahmed, 45, who has been a partner in the business for about 12 years. "You don't eat halal every day. We don't want to eat the same thing every day."

The Halal Guys have been drawing long lines in Midtown since the first cart opened at West 53rd Street and Sixth Avenue in 1983. Three more carts have opened since then, and their popularity pushed the owners to consider a storefront location.

"We have been thinking about this for two or three years," Ahmed said. "The rainstorms, snow, changes in the weather — at least we will have a place indoors."

The 14th Street eatery, first reported by the blog EV Grieve, will be open nearly 24 hours a day, from 7 a.m. to about 5 a.m., Ahmed said.

"Our customers have been asking for this," he said.

The store is still under construction and has been designed to get customers in and out fast, according to Ahmed. The owners have not decided whether to add seating.

The Halal Guys have already been testing the location, opening its fourth food cart in front of the under-construction store two weeks ago. Depending on business, the cart may continue to operate after the eatery opens, according to Ahmed.

In addition to suggesting the storefront, customers have also been asking for an expanded vegetarian menu, with more options than just falafel, Ahmed said.

He plans to work with a chef to develop new meat-free recipes that will only be served at the East 14th Street restaurant, which he said may also contain a juice bar.

Prices at the store will mirror the prices at the carts, with dishes such as chicken over rice going for $6 at all locations, Ahmed said.

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