“I’m a huge meat lover,” said Khalid Latif. “So, owning a burger joint is kind of the dream, right?”
The love of meat is only part of what’s driving Latif and his partners, Russell Khan and Bassam Tariq, to open Honest Chops Burgers, a Greenwich Village spin-off of their East Village halal butcher shop, Honest Chops. The partners are basing their new fast-casual burger joint on the “Honest-to-God” vision that inspired their flagship butchery. The Honest Chops team espouses the Islamic ideal of “tayyib,” a philosophy of “wholesomeness” and ethical consumption. The idea, says Latif, is to ensure “the entire process is good for the earth, the animal, and the human consumer.”
This dedication to serving “untainted” meat that’s “exactly how God intended it to be” will continue at Burgers, says Latif, who noted that compiling the menu took a lot of time. “We had to do a lot of research on our ingredients. We wanted to keep them as local as possible, and maintain a high standard of quality.”
While the group draws their inspiration from Islamic teachings, Latif is hoping the burger joint’s menu of all-natural, locally sourced entrees (lamb merguez patties, short-rib beef burgers, chicken sandwiches) will appeal to non-Muslims too. If it’s anything like the butchery, that shouldn’t be a problem—the patronage there includes many a WASP. (During a recent visit to the butcher shop, a lean, bespectacled young father, dropping in for his weekly rib-eye, told me, “it’s better than Trader Joe’s!”) Burgers will open on one of the Village’s booziest blocks, and meat lovers of all creeds are expressing their excitement on social media.
Later this year, Honest Chops hopes to open a joint butchery-burger shop in Park Slope, followed by fourth and fifth locations in 2017, possibly in Queens. The Honest Chops team also hopes to expand their community engagement, says Latif. Currently, the company contributes to several local charities, including the Muslim Women’s Institute in the Bronx and Smile in New Jersey. “We’d love to open a shelter for survivors of domestic abuse,” says Latif, a longtime anti-violence advocate.
For now, Latif, and his partners are fine-tuning their menu and hoping to launch in the first week of April. “This is new territory for us,” says Latif, “but we’re working very hard to get it right. We really believe in our vision, and we think customers will respond to that–inshallah, God willing.”
Honest Chops Burgers, 99 Macdougal St., bet. Bleecker St. and Minetta Ln.; Greenwich Village.