Big-time New York City gyro and pita sandwich restaurant The Halal Guys appears to have given up on Montreal, with the chain’s two downtown locations now closed.
Both locations — on Mackay Street (alongside Concordia University) and St-Denis (alongside a major bar strip) — appear to have shuttered in recent weeks, and the Montreal Facebook page for the Halal Guys has been taken down. Eater has been unable to reach the local owner for comment.
Update (May 25): An Eater tipster notes that both locations have morphed into gyro or shawarma restaurants by the name Poulet et Pita. Delivery pages for the two restaurants still have mentions of the Halal Guys on Google, suggesting that it may be the same operators, but without the Halal Guys name, for reasons unknown.
While the Montreal Halal Guys locations were franchised locations, the owner said the product was identical to that in New York when the first one opened. The general hype around the New York import led to long lines in its opening days in September 2016, and it likely earned a boost from a minor scandal where a small group of overzealous community members accused the restaurant of breaking Quebec’s laws about French-language signage, due to the restaurant’s English name on its signage. (They were wrong: companies are allowed to retain their English names and do not need to translate them to French.) Some anti-Halal Guys individuals also posted racist remarks about the restaurant.
Yet it doesn’t seem that locals took to the Halal Guys in the long-term — reviews on Yelp were heavily mixed, with several people more or less suggesting major Montreal shawarma player Boustan would be a better bet.
The Halal Guys started out as a food cart on the streets of New York in 1990, building a mass following and drawing long lines as time went on. The company started expanding rapidly around 2015, after signing a deal with franchise development company Fransmart — the organization’s CEO suggested Eater that his company had identified the shawarma business as a possible “next big thing”. While Montreal was the first location in Canada, a Toronto location that came later is still very much in business.
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