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Food & Drink

Halal Guys are betting that falafel will replace burgers

In New York City, there are plenty of places to get halal food -- items that okay for Muslims to eat or drink under Islamic law. 

But few draw secular crowds or have a cult following like The Halal Guys --which began with a food truck at their original and most famous location at 53rd Street and Sixth Avenue in Manhattan. 

But now The Halal Guys are going beyond the traditional food cart fare and going global. The Halal Guys have spent two decades expanding their food business from a single food cart.  In June, they opened their first brick-and-mortar location in New York and have now teamed up with restaurant franchise consulting firm Fransmart --the same franchise company that turned Five Guys Burgers into a nationwide chain --to expand their business model.

"We're going to keep in the New York City metro for the company to develop a bunch of different locations and all the busiest mass gathering areas around New York," Fransmart CEO Dan Rowe told FoxNews.com. "We've already awarded a couple franchise partners, one in California, one in Houston, Washington D.C."

Rowe said there are also plans for expansion in Europe and Asia.

With Middle Eastern-inspired dishes like gyro meat platters over rice and chicken smothered in their signature "white sauce," The Halal Guys hope diners across America will ditch burgers for something a little different.

"It's quite something to see just the diverse amount of people that are just lining up in droves for this food," Rowe said.

Hesham Hegazy, general manager for The Halal Guys, says the success of the business is due in part to the dedication of founders Mohamed Abouelenein, Ahmed Elsaka and Abdelbaset Elsayed.

"Those are the people who did hard work during those years to bring that name out there," Hegazy said.

For skeptic eaters wondering what exactly halal food is, Hegazy describes it as the food permitted under Islamic guidelines.

"It's the procedure you go through when you're doing the slaughtering," Hegazy said. "During the slaughtering, it must be blessed ... and you make sure all the blood is out completely. So that way once you've done this all, the meat is already halal and once the meat is already halal, it's up to The Halal Guys to prepare it and marinate it and how to present it to the customer."

The popularity of The Halal Guys has prompted some brand imposters. They recently won a lawsuit against the similarly named Halal Guys of New York, who were ordered "dispose of any signs, banners promotional or advertising items (including food containers and bags) that bear the mark the Halal Guys, or any colorable imitation."

It remains to be seen if the concept of international street food will catch on.  But celebrity chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain thinks so.  He's planning to open a "large-scale food market" focusing on global street food and hawker fare in Manhattan.