Ahmed Abouelenein Power List The Halal Guys

The Power List 2017: Ahmed Abouelenein

NRN presents The Power List 2017, our fourth annual list of the most powerful people in foodservice. The Ones to Watch on the list will be responsible for bold headlines covering everything from new innovative concepts to turnarounds of major brands.

Cabbies and late night partiers were the first to discover The Halal Guys 25 years ago, at a humble hot dog cart in Manhattan at the intersection of 53rd Street and 6th Avenue in 1990. Soon, the lines got longer, the carts multiplied and brick-and-mortar locations were added, serving lunchtime and late-night crowds the legendary combination of chicken and lamb over rice slathered with the iconic white or red sauce.

Now, The Halal Guys — headquartered in Astoria, Queens — are taking their buzz-worthy street cred to the next level. With Ahmed Abouelenein, son of co-founder Muhammed Abouelenein, at the helm as CEO, 225 new restaurants are in development worldwide, so many more customers will get to taste the New York City legend. The franchise is tapping into the trend of food as an experience: late-night excitement, a real story, affordable food and delicious comfort in a bowl. Diners are clearly seeking out authenticity, and NYC street food is just the ticket.

Franchise agreements are in place in Las Vegas, California, Connecticut, Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia, Atlanta, Chicago, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Houston and Austin. On the international level, expect to find Halal Guys soon in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Manila, Philippines; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Toronto.

Founders Muhammed Abouelenein, Ahmed Elsaka and Abdelbaset Elsayed were immigrants to the U.S. from Egypt, and credit their success to those original fans and good old-fashioned word-of-mouth marketing. Future plans include becoming the dominant American Halal food restaurant in the world. 

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