Shopping Centers Today

OCT 2018

Shopping Centers Today is the news magazine of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)

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S T O R E F R O N T S The company typically wants itsunits to measurebetween 1,100 and 2,000 square feet. Its smallest is a 700-square- foot kiosk at the The Forum Shops at Caesars, in Las Vegas, andthe largest is a 2,500-square-foot freestanding build- ing with a drive-thru,under construc- tion in La Grange, Texas. Both of these are tests for The Halal Guys, which typically prefers in-line locations at out- door shopping centers. "When we are looking at locations, we are looking for other restaurant and dining options," Wilson said. "We believe competition is healthy." Locations near hospitals and college campuses also hold appeal. The ideal locations are in cities, col- lege towns and larger suburban mar- kets with a diverse consumer set and an "appreciation for the authenticity that is key to their branding," said Schimpf. Beyond that,"being able to draw a lunchtime crowd is critical." Q Franchise inquiries may be directed to dle section of the country." Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine is a growing category in the U.S. Notable players include Plano, Texas– based Zoës Kitchen(with 262 units across 20 states); Bethesda, Md.–based Cava (73across nine states and the District of Columbia); and San Diego– based Luna Grill(51 units between California and Texas). "All these chains experienced solid sales growth in 2017," said Kevin Schimpf, an industry research manager at Technomic, a Chicago-based restaurant consulting firm. "While the Middle Eastern [and] Mediterranean space is growing, it's still relatively immature overall and has significant headroom to grow over the coming years. It doesn't hurt that consumers typically perceive the cuisine to be a healthier alternative to the more traditionallimited-service menu categories." With an average ticket below $10, The Halal Guys can also tout a lower price point than many of its rivals. I n 1990 three Egyptian immigrants with a middling hot dog cart in New York City ditched the wieners and the pretzels in favor of rice plat- ters and gyro sandwiches. At first the three — Mohammed Abouelenein, Ahmed Elsaka and Abdelbaset Elsayed — catered to Muslim cab drivers seeking meat slaughtered in accordance with Islamic law. But before long, the old-country flavors, large portions and bargain prices made their Midtown food stand, The Halal Guys, a favorite of area office workers and international tourists. Their original cart remains as pop- ular as ever, but their original recipes can now be had also atHalal Guys restaurants across the U.S.and in four overseas territories. The company, which began franchising in 2015, has quickly ballooned to 77 shops, with nine opening this month, for a total of 30 that will have openedin the course of this year alone. Terry Wilson, the company's director of franchise oper- ations, anticipates that theunit count will double next year. "I'd say with- in 10 years, we'll be at 1,000 stores [worldwide]," Wilson said. "We have the foundation and the operational structure for that [already] in place." The Halal Guys is casting a wide net. Its overseas units —10 at present — are sprinkled throughout places as disparate as Jakarta, Manila, Seoul and Toronto. The concept is already oper- atingin 18 U.S. states and Washington, D.C. Franchise agreements are in place for an additional 450 units, including 20 in the U.K. "We've done a good job of development through the West Coast, South and East Coast," Wilson said. "Nowwe'd like to fill up that mid- The Halal Guys ride food cart fame to international chain The concept will bring Middle Eastern flavor to 1,000 locations By Jesse Serwer 24 S C T / O C T O B E R 2 0 1 8

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