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The Halal Guys Closes Its Chicago Locations, But Suburban Branches Are Still Open

Known for its simple menu of shawarma or falafel, its white sauce and its flaming hot red sauce, the popular New York City street food came to Chicago in 2015.

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DOWNTOWN — Shawarma lovers may have to get their fix elsewhere: New York City’s The Halal Guys, which arrived in Chicago with great fanfare in 2015, have closed its Chicago locations.

The Halal Guys started as a wildly popular streetfood spot in Manhattan and went on to open restaurants across the country, including three in Chicago.

As of Monday, all the Chicago locations were closed. A location on Touhy Avenue in north suburban Skokie and another on LaGrange Road in west suburban Countryside are still open.

At their Downtown spot Monday, a sign on the door read “The Halal Guys is closed until further notice. Sorry for the inconvenience.” A cafe that shared location, TeaNinja, also posted a closing notice.

Credit: Shamus Toomey/Block Club Chicago
Signs on the front door of the downtown location say the restaurant is closed until further notice.

The Halal Guys, known for its pared-down Mediterranean menu (chicken and rice, lamb and rice and a combo of the two are the most popular items), expanded quickly, opening additional locations in other cities including Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. As of 2015, it was one of the top 10 “most Yelped” businesses in the U.S., according to a news release.

Credit: Block Club Chicago
The Halal Guys Wabash location in the Loop was quiet on Monday.

Rampelle Aguilar, general manager of the Skokie location, said he heard the Chicago locations had been temporarily suspended per a decision from corporate.

He said he was told from corporate that the Skokie location may have an influx of orders after the Chicago closings. The Skokie location is part of a suburban franchise group that he said is expanding rather than closing, with two more locations tentatively in the pipeline for this year.

He said the Wicker Park location closed about a month ago, and he thought the Gold Coast location on Division Street closed around three weeks ago.

“It could be anything,” he said about why the locations closed.

Neither The Halal Guys corporate office or the Chicago franchise owner could not be immediately reached for comment.

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