GOLD COAST — The smack and sizzle of cooks chopping and grilling ingredients and the laughter and chatter of customers finally filled Halal Guys restaurant at 49 W. Division St. Wednesday for a media preview night after months of anticipation.
The first of five Halal Guys restaurants will open to the public in the Gold Coast this week. The first 100 customers in line at 6 p.m. Thursday can grab a bite before the grand opening, which will be Saturday.
The Manhattan-based restaurant chain that serves up a pared-down Mediterranean menu (chicken and rice, lamb and rice and a combo of the two are the most popular items) is opening additional locations in other cities including Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. It's also one of the top 10 "most Yelped" businesses in the U.S., according to a news release.
Though the opening dates for the other Chicago locations haven’t been set, Vincent Tan, chief operating officer of Halal’s Chicago franchises, said the company is considering Wrigleyville, Bucktown/Wicker Park, Lincoln Park, the Loop and the West Loop for more locations.
“This location is very iconic,” Tan said. “We love the activities around here. The bars, the restaurant and the tourists, and the crowd always gathers in this place on this street.”
Paul Biasco discussed the new location when the plans were revealed:
To prepare for the opening of the restaurant, Tan said the employees had to train for 4½ weeks to ensure they could bring the consistent, detailed cooking style from the famed 53rd and 6th Avenue location in New York.
“We’re bringing a slice of New York City here,” Tan said. “We want them to experience that even though [Chicago is] called a Second City, we can also handle the big city vibrance, the excitement and all the flavor that New York City has to offer.”
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