Macaulay Honors College Seminar 2, IDC 3001H

The Halal Guys

While looking for Halal Carts to interview, I walked upon the most famous one of them all: The Halal Guys.  Beginning as a food cart in the 1990s, The Halal Guys has become a fast casual restaurant that has taken over the world. There are now approximately 70 carts/stores and many more opening throughout the world. People in countries as far as the Philippines are now franchising The Halal Guys to serve people a platter of chicken over rice.  I got the chance to speak with the Director of Operations/Manager of the first original cart on 53rd St. Now, there are roughly 7 Halal Guys carts in approximately a 100ft radius all serving hungry customers. There is a never-ending line of awaiting customers that only gets longer at night. The manager was very nice and told me a fascinating anecdote about how he started working for The Halal Guys in 2004 as a dishwasher. Throughout the years with his dedicated hard-work, he was able to rise the ranks and ultimately be at his high position he is at today in the corporation. I think this anecdote goes along well with the general attitude many newly-arrived immigrants hope for – the mantra that if one were to put in the dedicated effort, then one will eventually see the fruits of one’s labor. The story has a nice ending to it, but I also interviewed Halal Cart workers who are on the other side of the table. 

At another cart just a few blocks away from, a worker explained to me how he sold only $10 worth of food in nearly 4 hours! I was shocked. This cart is a few blocks away from The Halal Guys, so no one really buys from it. Business was terrible for this newly immigrated worker who faced the negatives of capitalism.



  1. Annmarie Gajdos

    I find it really interesting how The Halal Guys, which started out as an ordinary food cart business, became a brick and mortar company. I never thought that a food cart company could transition into becoming a franchised store. I wonder how the Halal Guys are able to retain their original customer base since they have completely changed the way in which they run their business. I also wonder why so many people prefer the Halal Guys to other carts in the area. I wonder if the Halal Guys serve food that is better than its competitors, or if its customers return to this establishment due to brand loyalty and tradition.

    • David Rosenberg

      I am always fascinated by the way people are loyal to big chains. For example, there are about half a dozen smaller independent places to get coffee in the area surrounding Baruch, among them, My Way Cup, Gregory’s, Fika and the guy in the cart on 24th and Lex. And yet, as I walk into the building in the morning, I see students and faculty with cups from Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks and McDonald’s.

      • Amanda Zhang

        I’m also fascinated by how something like halal carts whose roots are sourced from immigrant needs is able to turn into something profitable. People seem to make businesses out of anything they see opportunity in and I think that The Halal Guys is definitely a good enterprise. But it’s also a bit disappointing for the other halal carts because it seems that once there’s a chain of any type of industry, the smaller businesses tend to lose profit because most of it starts going to that single chain company. But I think it’s also great how they are able to turn this business into something that would fulfill the American Dream. The fact that it came from immigrant roots to something as successful as The Halal Guys is inspiring and it can encourage more people from countries with unfortunate resources to immigrate to the U.S. It’ll just continue this cycle of wanting better opportunities for themselves and their family.

  2. David Rosenberg

    Unfortunately, in a capitalist system, when there are winners there have to be losers too.

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