The Halal Guys began their fast-casual Middle Eastern chain with a single food cart on a New York City street corner. Boy how times have changed.
The restaurant opened its first brick-and-mortar location in 2014, and now it’s taking the next step by turning to delivery-only “cloud kitchens’ in Redwood City, California to meet growing customer demand.
The rapidly-expanding chain hopes that it will help the brand reach a new customer base without waiting for a franchisee to nail down a property.
“It removes a lot of the tension or pressure to open a brick-and-mortar,” The Halal Guys CEO Ahmed Abouelenein told Cheddar.
Cloud kitchens, sometimes called ghost kitchens, are essentially fully-equipped commissaries or commercial kitchens that allow a company to prepare food off-premises.
The company will partner with Redwood City DoorDash Kitchens, the online food delivery services’ first shared commissary. The delivery area will cover much of Silicon Valley, including Redwood City, Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Atherton, San Carlos, Belmont, and Woodside.
“We’ve been looking for sites in Redwood City for over two years now,” Abouelenein said. “The real estate is really high there, so it was beneficial for us to open a cloud-kitchen first. ”
The Halal Guys, which still operates its original hot dog cart on West 53rd and 6th Avenue in New York City, is no stranger to trying new ways of serving customers. The company has expanded to four carts and 95 franchise locations, with 400 more in development.
Fransmart, a franchise development company, has worked with The Halal Guys throughout its expansion and has supported the move to cloud kitchens as the delivery market expands.
“The Halal Guys has an incredible reputation, and its franchisees are always eager to expand into new markets,” said Dan Rowe, CEO of Fransmart, in a press release. “But no two territories are exactly the same, and it’s important to grow in a way that’s strategic and profitable. The small footprint and flexibility of cloud kitchens enables franchisees to unlock opportunities in desirable markets, while avoiding typical barriers like high rent or infrastructure costs.”
The company has also experimented with the cloud-kitchen concept in Los Angeles and Pasadena.
“We are the best at what we do, I’ll tell you that,” Abouelenein said.
Barbecue Pitmaster International Consultant.
I am an Italian chef turned Texas BBQ expert. My journey started at Franklin BBQ in Austin, TX where I ate my first ever brisket. This experience would later change my whole life and cooking style.
I began cooking barbecue at Kerlin BBQ, where Pitmaster Bill Kerlin (nominated for Best BBQ in the U.S.) taught me everything I needed to know about smoking meats. After intense two years living in a trailer next to a pit, I began collaborations in Italy and the U.S. with different barbecue venues.
Later on, while working at LORO Asian Smokehouse in Austin, I met Aaron Franklin, experience which led me to be hired as a Cutter and Pitmaster at Franklin BBQ.
In early 2019, I was elected #1 Pitmaster at Brisket King NYC™ annual event.