Five days after The Halal Guys opened in Farmingdale, there are still lines out the door. Long Island’s first bricks-and-mortar adaptation of the cult Manhattan food cart opened on Broad Hollow Road March 3 and has been swamped ever since, with eight yellow-shirted workers behind the counter scrambling to carve gyro and chop chicken for platters and sandwiches.
The Halal Guys’ story began in 1990, when founders Mohammed Abouelenein, Abdelbaset Elsayed and Ahmed Elsaka opened a hot dog cart at West 53rd Street and Sixth Avenue. Taking note of the number of Muslim cabdrivers who needed a quick, affordable halal lunch, they phased out hot dogs and phased in rice platters and sandwiches topped with chicken and / or beef gyro. The cart became a sensation, spawning two more Manhattan carts, two restaurants and numerous imitators.
Now there are more than 60 Halal Guys around the country (and in The Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia), most of which are franchise operations. The Farmingdale store is owned by franchisee Khattab Abuattieh, whose territory includes Nassau and Suffolk counties, New Jersey (where he has opened three locations), Delaware and the District of Columbia metro area.
“We studied the Long Island market,” he said, “and we found that there was a demand for fast halal food in Farmingdale, and we liked that the location was on a major road.”
Abuattieh estimated that more than 1,000 people were served on opening day. “We have a strong media presence,” he said, “and as soon as we announced the location on Facebook we had people calling us to ask ‘when?’ ”
There’s not much to The Halal Guys’ menu: Chopped dark-meat chicken, beef gyro and falafel can be had in a sandwich (on flatbread) or a platter (with rice and lettuce). You can also get a side of hummus, babaganoush, falafel or fries. Dessert: baklava. Everything (save the baklava) benefits from The Halal Guys’ signature white and hot sauces, which are packaged in foil pouches and thrown in with every order.
Prices are gentle: sandwiches are $7.29, platters $8.29 to $9.29, sides around $3.
Abuattieh noted that the eatery’s food is exactly the same as that served at the carts, with much of it prepared in a central commissary.
His group is working on a second Long Island location that he hopes to open by summer. He wouldn’t say where.
The Halal Guys takes over the location occupied, for a short time, by the DIY pie shop Pizza Studio. It’s flanked by Chipotle and Panera just west of Farmingdale’s Walmart.
911 Broadhollow Rd. (Route 110), Farmingdale, 631-815-5544,