[caption id="attachment_348398" align="alignright" width="376"] Photo courtesy of The Halal Guys[/caption]
Two years after Astoria, N.Y.-based global franchise The Halal Guys first opened a location in Milwaukee's East Side neighborhood, the restaurant celebrated a grand re-opening as new owners Tammy and Paul Guadagno took over operations.
The fast-casual restaurant, located at 3133 N. Oakland Ave., serves Middle Eastern-style dishes and traditional halal food-- food that adheres to Islamic law-- such as gyros, hummus, baba ganouj, falafel and baklava. It held its re-opening on April 19, offering various specials that day and throughout the week.
The Guadangos purchased the franchise in mid-December, and in February, they officially took over operations and started making improvements to the 1,560-square-foot space and to the business. Tammy Guadango said she and Paul plan to focus more on the restaurant's catering service, as well as fast service and quality food. All staff members underwent re-training as part of the transition, she said.
Guadango, who is also the restaurant's operations director, had her first taste of The Halal Guys food over three years ago in New York City-- the company's birthplace. She started following the restaurant online, and later attended the grand opening of The Halal Guys in Orange County, Calif., where she then lived. When she found out last year The Halal Guys location in Wisconsin was for sale, she and Paul decided to move across the country to Milwaukee.
"I loved the brand, so I knew it was exactly where I wanted to be," she said. "We decided to just go with it."
Guadango said the restaurant plans to be more involved with the surrounding community-- largely made up of families and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee students-- by offering deals and specials, and by giving back.
"We really want to tie into the community and serve the areas of community where there is need," she said. "We want to have a great business, but we want to give back as well."
The Guadangos plan to open additional Halal Guys locations in Milwaukee and across the state, including in Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward and in Madison. Guadango said growing their business will allow them to eventually start a small foundation that will support charitable and community organizations.
Since it first opened as a food truck in 1990, The Halal Guys have grown to currently own, and plan to open, over 200 locations throughout the United States, Canada, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.