When the bafflingly popular New York-based chain Halal Guys opens in Pioneer Square on Friday, August 11, it’s a safe bet the line will stretch around the corner, so here’s a first look inside the tiny space with no crowds for anyone dying to know what to expect. Spoiler: It’s the same assembly line for the signature platters and wraps of chicken, beef gyro, combo, or falafel, the same packets of white sauce and blazingly hot red sauce, the same handful of chairs and stools, the same red-and-yellow-and-shiny-steel decor, and roughly the same meta black-and-white photos of crowds at other locations.
The company was founded by Mohamed Abouelenein, Ahmed Elsaka, and Abdelbaset Elsayed, who remade their hot dog cart into an American Halal street-food superstar in 1990 after realizing that many Muslim cab drivers in Manhattan were looking for a place to buy meals. Now, it’s a global giant, with more than 200 franchise locations around the world. To name a few, Los Angeles already has a number of locations with more planned for 2017, Chicago has a handful of outposts, Austin, Houston, and Dallas are seeing an influx, and Vegas recently got its first branch.
The first (and probably not the last) Seattle shop will be open Sunday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
(In something like the world’s most boring recurring nightmare, the company can’t decide what the restaurant’s official address is, flitting between 101 Yesler and 105 Yesler Way for nearly every update. The building’s property manager insists 105 Yesler is the correct address. Regardless, the shop is impossible to miss, so nobody should lose any sleep over it.)