New York food-cart institution the Halal Guys is soon bringing its chicken and rice over garlicky white sauce to Dearborn Heights. The menu at the local brick-and-mortar will be the same as all of the franchise’s other locations, including its original site in New York City.
It’s the first of four stores planned for the area, a company spokesman says. The second is planned for 1043 Woodward in midtown Detroit.
Dearborn Heights customers soon will be able to order beef gyro, chicken and falafel sandwiches and platters, as well as sides of hummus and baba ghanoush, and baklava for dessert.
The Halal Guys’ founders, three guys from Egypt, entered the food business in 1990 with a hot dog cart in New York City. After figuring out that New York had its fair share of hot dogs, the ex-cab drivers and restaurant workers pivoted to selling halal food around the clock to Muslim taxi drivers in Manhattan.
While chicken and rice bathed in garlicky white sauce can be purchased from numerous other street vendors in the city, the Halal Guys is the most well-known. It’s common to see long lines at the original food cart on 53rd Street and Sixth Avenue more than 25 years after its inception. On any given day, crowds of tourists and native New Yorkers line up — sometimes for hours — or a meal of chicken, beef, or both, served with yellow rice and a three-ingredient salad, all wrapped in a gyro or served on a round aluminum dish. The garlic sauce is what distinguishes this cart from its competitors.
In the past few years, the Halal Guys has rapidly grown to a multimillion-dollar franchise with more than 90 brick-and-mortar fast-casual restaurants from Chicago to Toronto, Los Angeles to Seoul, and London to Jakarta. The Dearborn Heights brick-and-mortar restaurant will be modeled on a new store design, which the company introduced in the spring of 2021 in Aurora, Colorado, a spokesman for the company says.
Restaurants serving halal food — especially falafel, hummus, and gyros — are already plentiful in metro Detroit, particularly in Dearborn and Dearborn Heights. The franchise partner for the coming site was born and raised in the Detroit area, and is well-suited to help the chain compete in this market, the company says.
The Halal Guys hopes to open its first store in Michigan, at 26650 Ford Rd. in Dearborn Heights, this year.