The food court at the Queens Center Mall will welcome The Halal Guys, a national food chain founded by Queens residents, this spring.
The Halal Guys is a New York City-based chain, starting as a single food cart on the streets of Manhattan in 1990. Over 30 years later, The Halal Guys has opened over 100 restaurants worldwide, serving beef, chicken and falafel platters and sandwiches.
The Egyptian founders were from Astoria and traveled to Manhattan to sell hot dogs out of a cart. They pivoted to selling halal food to Muslim taxi drivers when they noticed a demand for authentic food.
“Their journey started here and most of their youth was spent in Queens,” said franchise owner Joe Hafez. “Their story is amazing. It’s the American dream in the best way.”
Hafez, who is now a franchisee for the company, said he once was standing in the long lines in Manhattan back when The Halal Guys only operated out of food carts. He said he appreciates how special it is to open a store in an area so meaningful to the company’s history.
“The diversity itself actually created the right atmosphere for us to open and expand Halal Guys in [Queens Center Mall],” Hafez said.
The Queens Center Mall location will be the restaurant’s first Queens-based storefront. However, the company is looking to expand in other areas of the city and borough.
“For more than 30 years, The Halal Guys has called NYC home,” said Vice President of Marketing Andrew Eck. “We’re thrilled to be bringing the brand back to where it all started in the [borough] the founders grew up in. We have such a loyal fan base in New York and are excited to continue catering to the customers who have supported the brand since its founding in 1990.”
The opening date has not been confirmed since construction was delayed due to COVID and the flooding from Hurricane Ida. The chain will be located between Chick-Fil-A and Sbarro on the lower level.
Eck said that the Queens Center Mall is the ideal location to expand their restaurant’s reach.
“With the founders growing up only a few blocks away, our decision to open at Queens Center is in part to pay tribute to the brand’s roots,” Eck said. “We think the community will appreciate the high-quality, fresh menu offerings, customer care and diversity The Halal Guys brings to Queens.”