The Halal Guys, a Middle Eastern restaurant chain based in New York City, is funding its upcoming Downtown Berkeley location through a crowdsourcing platform called EquityEats.
Binh Tran, a franchisee of The Halal Guys, is launching new locations in Berkeley and San Francisco through his company FOMO THG LLC. According to Tran, their opening date is yet to be determined and progress has been delayed awaiting construction.
According to Matt Saeta, head of customer success at EquityEats, his firm’s services allow consumers to directly invest in the opening of a restaurant.
Investors who back EquityEats-funded restaurants such as the new Halal Guys locations receive credit toward food and drinks at the restaurants. For example, a $100 investment into FOMO THG LLC nets a credit return of $130.
EquityEats has also partnered with Uber to notify restaurant management when backers are arriving. Those who invest in the restaurant receive other “backer benefits” as well, which may include investor-only events and reservations for investors’ friends and family.
Saeta said there is value in giving communities power to help restaurants grow. He has seen a trend within the past two years of increasing community investment in restaurants.
“(We made a) vehicle for restaurants to raise money and completely shifted and created a unique dining experience for the (investor),” Saeta said. “It’s a cool way to get people that love the products to … grow the brand.”
The Halal Guys’ future location on 2126 Center St., however, may negatively affect similar restaurants in the area, according to Oasis Grill manager Ali Elayyan. Elayyan said the The Halal Guys’ low prices will create competition for his establishment, which also serves Mediterranean halal food.
“The chicken will not be the same as we do it over here,” Elayyan said. “The beef is going to be cheaper and halal but worse in quality.”