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Davis

Davis, California

Monday, September 20, 2021

Gyro food truck builds its customer base

If you’ve ever biked past the Silo and wondered where that new white trailer came from, you’re not alone.

Contrary to most student surmises, the white trailer is not an ice cream stand or a taco truck – it is Shah’s Halal Food, the new gyro food service on campus.

After an extensive 16-month planning process involving both Shah’s and University Dining Services, Shah’s was finally established early last month.

“I contacted multiple campuses in the area, and UC Davis was one of the first to respond,” said business manager Radai Mashriqi. “We then started off with the proposals, and I eventually got into contact with Sodexo. It took us about a year and a half to finalize everything.”

Shah’s recently expanded to California after initially beginning as a family-owned business in New York in 2006. Favorable responses on different college campuses on the East Coast led to its expansion to California. UC Davis is the first campus in California to house the gyro food stand.

“I eat here at least once a week,” said senior biological sciences major George Jeung. “At the Silo you can only find either unhealthy food or old refrigerated food. The gyros here are fresh and the location is great, it’s easy to stop by here on your way to class.” Mashriqi’s main objective in expanding Shah’s Halal Food was to increase the availability of acceptably prepared food for those of the Islamic faith. Halal, an Arabic word meaning lawful or permitted, can be used in a more general context, but in this case refers to the permissible food described by Islamic law. Under Halal, animals must be slaughtered in a particular manner and the meat prepared according to guidelines.

“Throughout college, I noticed that Halal food is not readily available,” Mashriqi said. “My main ambition leaving college was to change this to make it more accessible. When it’s difficult to find food that is permissible, there’s a conflict between your religion and being hungry.”

Food items include chicken and lamb gyros, with the additional option of rice or no rice. The positive feedback Shah’s has received stems from the relatively inexpensive menu prices of $5.49 and $6.49, which includes tax and a drink of your choice.

“You get everything for a set price,” said senior Kin Lam. “Other food places on campus can be expensive, and you don’t get the same quality that you do [at Shah’s].”

Since its establishment seven weeks ago, business has been steadily increasing. Though Radai has not kept written records, he estimates an average of 150 customers per day, a number that has doubled since the food stand’s opening in October. Shah’s Halal Food is hoping to continue to expand and see an even larger influx of customers as the year progresses.

“We’re doing better than we thought we would do,” said cashier David Mashriqi. “We’re starting to have regular customers that have continued to come back. We’ve loved working on the Davis campus; everyone has been friendly and accommodating. We hope to continue to serve the students on campus.”

REBECCA SHRAGGE can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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