Halal Shack partners with Impossible Foods, adds plant-based options

The Oakland Center’s go-to spot for Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food just added a plant-based option for vegan and vegetarian customers.

Halal Shack is a recent addition to the Pioneer Food Court in the Oakland Center that specializes in non-traditional retail space, such as college campuses, airports and hospitals. Recently, the company partnered with Impossible Foods, which provides plant-based meat products for those who are vegan or vegetarian. 

According to the Halal Shack’s website, their food is inspired by New York City street food and offers Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food with an American twist. All of the food provided by the Halal Shack is Halal approved.

“Halal” is an Arabic word meaning lawful or permitted. Halal food refers to food prepared according to Islamic law stated in the Quran. 

The company was started three years ago by Jamal Rasoully, who saw the need for Halal food in non-traditional spaces.

“When I went to college, I really didn’t eat much on campus because there were no Halal options,” he said. “I wanted to come up with a concept to try and change the landscape.”

According to the company’s website, Halal Shack is different from other restaurants because they focus on the “health-conscious and socially conscious eater.” 

“We like to have food options that are not only halal, but that have a kosher background as well as vegan and vegetarian options,” Rasoully said. “That way we can have a very diverse profile of offerings.” 

Since founding the company, Rasoully has spread his restaurant to college campuses across the country. 

Halal Shack locations nationwide are now offering Impossible Foods’ plant-based meat on their menus, which will affect the Oakland University location as well once it reopens. Currently, it is one of several campus dining locations to be temporarily closed in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“We met Impossible, and the partnership and the leadership there just was really great for our company,” Rasoully said. “Because the taste of impossible is so similar to that of meat, it kind of fit really well to create an Impossible option using that recipe with the vegan product.” 

The meat Impossible Foods offers allows the end user to decide how it is used. According to Rasoully, the Halal Shack uses the meat in recipes inspired by and celebrating Afghan heritage. 

“Most of our customers come to us because they like Middle Eastern food or Mediterranean food,” he said. “Having an impossible option opens up that spectrum for those customers who are conscious of vegan or vegetarian diet or a healthier option going plant based.”

According to Rasoully, in order to increase the diversity of the food on OU’s campus, the partnership between OU and Halal Shack was formed with the help of Chartwells’ Mark McCormic. 

Rasoully said working with college campuses is probably his favorite part of his job. 

“Working in the restaurant industry is very challenging, but working on college campuses is unbelievable,” he said. “I feel like I’m still in college.”

Rasoully said it is important for students to have the confidence that the food they’re consuming has been through the right procedures to ensure the product stays vegan. The Halal Shack makes sure there is no cross contamination, so students can have that confidence when they eat food from the restaurant. 

“As we say, we’re just trying to help everyone discover deliciousness,” he said.