For fans of halal food cart food, the question “Hot sauce and white sauce?” has become as common as “Do you want fries with that?” “

And that’s part of the plan of Khalid Mashriqi, CEO of Shah’s Halal Food, a fast-growing company with the long-term goal of becoming “the McDonald’s of halal”.

But, given the company’s current rapid rate of expansion, this is a goal that may well be within reach.

“There’s McDonalds, Arby’s, Subway and Wendy’s… but nothing for halal,” says Mashriqi, noting the current fast food landscape..

The Arabic term “halal”Generally refers to the specific authorized method of slaughtering animals in accordance with Islamic law.

The company was founded by Mashriqi’s father, Ibrahim, and two business partners, Shafiq Mashriqi and Rahimullah Mashriqi. Almost 60 percent of the Shah Company’s workforce is made up of family members.

Khalid, now 37, came to the United States with his family from Afghanistan in the early 1980s. Since 2016, he has taken over all business operations.

“We started this business in 2005, with a single food cart on 121st Street and Liberty Avenue in Richmond Hill, Queens,” he says. “In the beginning, we prepared all the food at home, using a small kitchen and a garage. It all started from there, ”he says, adding,“ We ​​opened one, then another… until we got to where we are today. ”

Today, the company has 17 stores on Long Island and two more in Freeport and Stony Brook, as well as a network of branded and unbranded food carts across New York City. Other locations include Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and California. Abroad there is also an operation in the UK with several catering trucks operating under contract with the London transport system.

Khalid, a graduate of Queens College with a degree in political science, says he had an “entrepreneurial spirit” from the start. He spearheaded Shah’s Halal’s brand image with the opening of window stores in 2016.

Although most of the stores are now owned by the company, Khalid says “there is great interest in franchises” and Shah’s plans to offer franchises soon.

The price will be affordable, he says, maybe between $ 20,000 and $ 25,000 up front, then a continuous percentage of the store’s profits.

Competition for halal fast food consumers continues to grow across LI and beyond. Research firm Technavio says the U.S. halal market will grow by $ 8 billion by the end of 2024, mostly fueled by a growing U.S. Muslim population.

However, Khalid says most of his customers are non-Muslims and most love the freshness of his food and the unique tastes.

“In my experience, people also like the transparency of halal products and they also say they can actually taste a difference in meat (this is what non-Muslims have told me over the years) , and they like that there is a process that involves really understanding what is in the ingredients and by-products of food, ”says Yvonne Maffei, author of My Halal Cuisine: Global Recipes, Cooking Tips and Lifestyle Inspiration.

Maffei, who also writes a blog on halal cooking, explained how the halal industry views ingredients through an eye of food science, always keeping an eye out for questionable or non-halal elements in things like bread, yogurt. or apple juice. “People find the process fascinating.

Some of Shah’s most popular dishes include the chicken and rice dish and gyros, which are staple menu items in addition to chicken sandwiches, Philly cheese steaks, hot wings, and burgers.

All of Shah’s food is prepared at his own US Department of Agriculture facility in Jamaica, Mashriqi says.

Even on LI, there are now many suppliers of Halal-style food, from the Halal Brothers in New York in Floral Park to the Halal Guys in East Meadow. But Khalid says the difference is in the food and how it’s prepared, using a superior brand of Halal chicken and consistently marinating it with a unique blend of spices that competitors don’t use.

He adds that all of Shah’s sauces, from the popular white sauce to hot red and green sauces, are made from scratch.

Plus, he says he probably supplies around 80 to 90 percent of all other halal operations on Long Island.

When asked if he was concerned about increasing competition, Khalid said he was confident in his product.

“We’re our biggest competition,” he said, noting that Shah’s is facing the big guys.

For the future, Khalid is considering Shah’s locations across the country. “We’re definitely going nationwide with this, it’s only a matter of time,” he said, adding that the company is regrouping regularly since Covid and consolidating its operations. He also plans to bring his special brand of halal to the UAE.

“All of the UAE is halal, but what sets us apart is our food. No one has our food, that’s all. Our sauces, how everything is prepared… nobody has it.

For more information on food and drink, visit longislandpress.com/category/food-drink.

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