The Halal Guys Began By Selling Hot Dogs

The Halal Guys franchise has come a long way from its humble roots as a food cart. Today, it's an international sensation, drawing tens of thousands of customers every day with its delicious platters of gyro or chicken served over rice and vegetables. But few of them know the company actually started out selling something a bit more conventional — the good old-fashioned hot dog.

The chain's three Egyptian-born founders launched the business in 1990 on the streets of New York City, where hot dog carts are a common sight. However, they say they quickly discovered a significant and underserved demand for authentic halal food, including from the city's many Muslim taxi drivers.

For those unfamiliar, halal is a Muslim religious designation for food, similar to kosher food in Judaism. It's often applied to meat, which needs to be prepared or slaughtered in prescribed ways. Hot dogs often don't fit the bill unless they're all beef, as pork can never be prepared in ways that meet halal standards. However, observant Muslims would have no issues eating The Halal Guys' updated food, which meets all the requirements while also being delicious and quickly prepared.

From street cart to international sensation

The chain has grown dramatically over the three decades since its hot dog days. It has since expanded from carts to physical restaurants, opening its 100th location in 2022. However, that's just the start for The Halal Guys, which set a goal of expanding to 400 restaurants worldwide in the years ahead.

Others with dietary restrictions beyond just Halal will also find a friendly menu at the chain. In early 2023, The Halal Guys had good news for vegan fans: it debuted a meatless gyro option, which could be paired with vegan tzatziki sauce and eggplant hummus. Most of the menu is also gluten-free as well, except the gyro meat, pita bread, and tabbouleh. And those avoiding eggs or dairy can indulge without fear, with the exception of The Halal Guys' famous White Sauce.

One thing's for sure — every day thousands of satisfied diners are thankful the real "Halal Guys" branched out from hot dogs and changed the fast food world forever.