6 Ways Halal Eateries Lose their Customers

Halal Eateries

6 Ways Halal Eateries Lose their Customers. Twenty years ago it was okay if my family and I would go to a squalid halal eatery, scramble to the cleanest table and sit on wobbly chairs. The food was good, the service was warm and family-esque, and the price was on the low-end of economical. The only complaint you would hear from us is if our portions were small. Even if we didn’t like the taste as much, if our plates were stacked high, our lips were sealed.

Such was our dining out experiences. We would rarely try a new place unless my parents heard rave reviews from friends we trusted and who’s opinion we valued. There was no BlogTO, Urbanspoon, Zabihah or Halal Foodie 😉

This was a reflection of our economical and social position in the late 80’s and early 90’s (of course, everyone has their own opinion based on their own experiences).

Today, we operate quite differently. The general public is more adventurous, our expectations are higher, we want the same standards that our first, second, third and fourth-generation Canadian friends have grown up with expecting. But have halal eateries caught up? Quite frankly — no.

Here’s why:

1. When all that glitters is gold-plated
False advertising. If someone wants to “borrow” an image off of Google and use it for their menu board or website, I hope they at least try to make sure it’s a reflection of what someone will experience. There’s no bigger let down than expecting a giant juicy burger with fresh colourful toppings and getting a sad grey burger with limp, lifeless lettuce and scant condiments instead.

Or, even worse, when the restaurant starts off with a bang, then letting the restaurant life get to them, they start to lose the passion needed to run a great restaurant. I completely understand how difficult it is to own and operate a restaurant but there are fundamental reasons why one should open one in the first place.

2. When quantity trumps quality
I notice when my meat is not prime (even when it says it is on the menu), I also notice when food is reheated, thawed then cooked, or when a restaurant is serving leftovers from the day before. It’s obvious to me and it’s obvious to many others as well.

3. When Oscar the Grouch starts to look like a saint
We have all experienced the defensive yet inadequately verbose owner/manager/staff member who will scowl, glare and even snarl at you for asking for anything other than what’s on the menu. Nothing is ever their fault – they just want your money, and then they want you out. No soup for you!

4. When the prices fluctuate faster than they do at the gas station
They open their doors, make the prices as appealing as possible and if they catch a wave with a good dish, prices slowly (or sometimes rather quickly) will start to increase. The savvy restaurant goer will notice, but then are usually scared off when the restaurant owner also happens to be a grouch (see above).

5. When the restaurant is stuck in a time capsule
Although I appreciate the nostalgia, if you haven’t changed a lick despite your popularity and haven’t made changes to improve the quality of your dishes, atmosphere or even water safety issues in the past 10 years, I’m not going to want to come back unless your food tastes amazing.

6. When the restaurant staff is racist – to their own race
This one gets me every time. It’s like we all don’t have enough issues in the world, we now have to deal with the internal complexes of people who have ingrained stereotypes of everyone and their mother. Their own mother — literally.

I might have turned a blind eye as a naive 10-year-old 20 years ago, but today, I’m not impressed at the amount of halal eateries that don’t want to accept change. Aside from the fact that I just aged myself in the last sentence, I’m happy to have this off my chest 🙂

What are some ways that halal eateries turn you off?


By: September 17, 2014


  • forced tipping – even though i usually tip at a sit in restaurant, if i spot a “service charge” in the receipt, i’ll pay it this time (to avoid the fuss) and then blacklist the restaurant.

    • It’s a standard practice at several restaurants actually. If the “service charge” is 15% or more I don’t tip at all.

  • 2. When quantity trumps quality
    ………… this is what the Muslims customers really want, face the honesty most of you are poor as hell and from my personal experience of working at a halal food place for 2 years let me tell you 99% of Muslim customers from the rich neighborhood are not willing to pay the price for the quality and always complaining about the quantity.

    4. When the prices fluctuate faster than they do at the gas station
    …………….. yes they do, because you have to accept the fact that Halal products are more expensive then the Haram ones, i bet you have never contacted a wholesaler and asked them how often they increase their price, i personally know a very big and famous supplier of chicken increased their price for chicken 2 times in a month, so tell me what choice does the store owner has whos majority customers are muslims, and the first question those customers ask after entering the restaurant is “do you charge tax or not? and if your answer is yes we do their next questions would be “even if i pay cash?”

    6. When the restaurant staff is racist – to their own race
    …………… i dont know about other restaurants owners or people who work at halal restaurants but let me be very honest, i use to write blog posts defending people of my nationality and after working at a halal resutrant i am not racist i hate muslims of all nationality equally, and its not my fault its their, they dont want to pay tax, they dont want to pay full price of the product, they are fighting with you all the time because they came 5 mins early to pick up their food which wasnt ready, they do not have manners to place an order, and talk about tipping, i have never receieved any in my 2 years of working their and yes i have loads n loads of cheap ass asking me to give them discount and not charge them taxes and when you refuse they give you lectures as if you are the biggest munafiq in the world and yes i have been called munafiq for insisting to charge tax to one of the “muslim customers”

    so Booo to this post of yours

    • Potential Munafiq on September 18, 2014

      *Edited for language*

      “I’m not racist”… But “I hate Muslims of all nationalities equally”. News flash you are a racist.

      Sure, there are people like that out there but cheap people aren’t limited to the Muslim community. So take a breather and try to be nice. Maybe you aren’t getting tips because of your attitude. Also, you clearly come from a muslim background as well – who else would ever use the word “munafiq”.

      I hope you get another job, something that you will actually enjoy.

    • Wow! Aren’t you bitter?

      A perfect example of Halal restaurant employee who refuses to learn to deal with different types of customers and cater to their needs accordingly. First step in working in hospitality is being hospitable in the extreme of circumstances. May be this industry is not for people who understand that.

      Also, restaurants need to understand what their market segment is. No one will pay same $30 for a steak and sit in a plastic chair. Know your customers!

      • i challenge you to work at a halal restaurant especially with brown and afghan customers and not come out as bitter as me, secondly the place i work at is pretty good they make good food and prices are not as high neither do they have plastic chairs but be honest with me when the customers are always asking for discounts and not willing to pay taxes how much do you think the owner is going to make and to be able to spend on the restaurant it self ? and regarding different people, i barely get any nice customer the next door restaurant server, she makes double on tips then she gets on the pay cheque and no she does not smile more then me neither does she show her cleavage its just that her customers are not “Halal Foodies”

  • Thank you for this piece, and acknowledging the disrespect customers receive that restaurants expect to get away with. Sure, sometimes can be prissy at times but, all we really ask for some respect and some reason.

  • How about just plain old, crappy service? Minimal communication, unanswered questions, no apologies for mistakes, misleading information, impatient owners and staff, unnecessarily long delays and waits (especially when restaurants are not even busy) and no acknowledgement from staff that it’s taking forever, inconsistent food and portions, smaller portion sizes as passes, and no regards or action to correct customer complaints.

    I mean, we’re all glad that you’re serving halal food but..we don’t owe restaurants our business to them. Some places make it seem like because it looks nice, we should thank them. Hmm..guess again.

  • You are spot on with your analysis and if I may add one more point to the list it would be “absolute denial to all the reasons you have mentioned” if you are arguing about why you need to serve low quality food to your customers, there is a slim chance you would be in restaurant business for long ! Thats perhaps the reason why, over the last 20 years, 100s of New halal restaurants have opened in GTA but only few have survived the Test of time

  • I was just recently at now my least favourite restaurant and ordered dessert which came on a dirty plate and looked like it was sitting out for days… I didn’t touch it and sent it back right away… Only to ask for my bill and have them charge me for it? And the same restaurant once gave me my Caesar salad with a piece of their beard in it… (Gross) and when I showed it to them and sent it back they asked if I wanted another one? Wth .. No I don’t I just lost my appetite (rolling eyes) and ofcourse they charged me for it… I hate the brown cheap mentality when clearly you have hundreds of fools like us coming back to eat at your lame smelly fly infected restaurant and you have extremely poor service but you don’t shy away from charging us especially for things we didn’t even consume!!! I know I’m never personally going back ever and if my circle of friends continue to choose this place for their celebrations then i might just have to find new friends! lol
    Rant over!

    • Seeing the way you were treated by this DIVE, you should have mentioned the name of the joint, so the rest of us do not make the same mistake by visiting this dive

  • UT, here we go again. You worked at ONE restaurant – quit stereotyping.

    • i speak what i see

      • I’m Muslim, I eat out occasionally at halal restaurants, where I keep my kids at the table even if other kids are running around and expect good table manners from them. I pay the bill, tip up to 20% depending on the service and attitude of the server. I have had good experiences and bad ones and I just don’t feel the need to return to the ones who aren’t up to a decent standard of food or service. Lets face it if I can cook something better than they are serving me in their restaurant I might as well eat at home. I’ve been on both sides of the counter and I have seen some people are unbelievably rude and expect 5 stars service with a 2 star price but you will find that in any restaurant and with any nationality or religious group. We owned a chicken rotisserie for a few years and my husband made a point of knowing the names of nearly everyone who walked through the door. It was a line style with no waiting staff but people (even Muslims) used to tip anyway even when my husband would object and tell them it was his store and that they didn’t need to tip. Its attitude that makes the difference. If you treat people like they are going to be nasty to you then that’s what you get.

  • This may fall into the self-hate column but so be it. I’m a customer who struggles to take my family to nice places that happen to be halal because the people in the restaurant (ie. other halalies) have no decorum. They are rude to servers, they rarely come in tables smaller than 6, are louder than a bachelorette party and have their kids running around the place. I don’t really feel for the restauranteurs in this respect because people often act like it’s their first time out. That being said you definitely raise some valid points, it would be worthwhile for restauranteurs to visit some decent spots outside the suburbs and see how things are really done. Including, perhaps, creating an atmosphere where patrons, servers and owners are all respectful.

    And another thing, none of the halal spots can make steak for their lives – if you want a decent one then save up, call ahead and go to Ruth’s Chris or Harbour 60.

  • Good points all….I feel both sides have a responsibility to maintain the standards of this country (that’s country, not religion) when eating out, meaning, some eateries should avoid importing 3rd world attitudes & flies for the authentic feel, and some patrons need to remember they are not in a 3rd world country where they can talk down to staff, make a mess, etc.

    Thankfully the market will drive the bad apples out of business, and keep the good ones going. Let’s vote wisely by giving our business (tips, good dining manners, and referrals) to the good ones and avoid the sub-standard businesses and let them die, thereby providing lessons for others.

    Personally, upon a bad experience, I first give them the benefit of the doubt and politely (and quietly) mention to management why I’m displeased and tell them honestly what they need to do to make it right. If not receptive, I won’t go back and all my family & friends will hear about it, and I tell them so (politely).
    If appreciative of the advice, I acknowledge their good efforts and eventually come back to try again, and always tip well when things are good.

    Lastly, both sides need to break the ‘thrifty’ stereotype of the last generation (who did struggle as immigrants and needed to save $’s), by not being so short sighted economically. Most of us are not in that same financial boat these days.

    ie, a comp/freebie upon displeasure could turn the customer around to want to return and also produce positive word-of-mouth, and feedback should ALWAYS be welcome and appreciated.

    Discounts should never be asked for (who does that in a restaurant?!?), and a good tip tells the restaurant they are on the right track, and helps sustain them to continue providing quality food & experience.

    I’ve both walked out of places upon excessive wait times, and did the ‘keep the change’ thing when I’m happy. Drops in the bucket I know, but with enough of them it might make the differences we all welcome…for both sides.

    • Well said Nabeel! There has to be mutual respect amongst patrons and staff, only then will the standards of halal restaurants in Canada be improved. We are already seeing it! Lots of great choices out there. MA

  • Asking for a discount in a restaurant? Seriously? Even the takeout places make you pay tax.
    I’ve been to Ruth Chris a few times – once a year usually, and saved up so we could take the kids as well. It wasn’t all that.
    Now that you’ve all vented, where should I eat out for a nice halal dinner? And, I prefer western food when I eat out. So far my only options are Affy’s and Kara Mia.

    • Those aren’t choices at all! Too bad Braised Bull shut down. The only good halal steak I’ve ever had.

      • Braised Bull was awesome! By the time I discovered it was halal I only had the chance to go a couple if times. Now there is a bland Swiss Chalet that serves bland halal chicken.

      • I’ve also been to Crave Grill in Brampton and it is so-so.
        Empire Grill in Scarborough is also not good. Very poor ambiance, and for a new restaurant, they should not have bought old cutlery that looks and feels 10 years ild. Will not be going back there.

  • Al-tanoor on your list is a terrible shawarma place. The owner is very rude and fits the bill of your # 6 “When the restaurant staff is racist”. And I gave this place 3 tries ! He threw the change at me because he didn’t want change. Right after he asked me to bring exact change and won’t accept debt under $20. Avoid this place.

    Go to Mediterranean grill on VP & Lawrence. Nice place and friendly staff.

  • When will this end on October 17, 2017

    As a revert I can say that halal restaurnts suck. It was the hardest none religious aspect to accept about becoming Muslim. It’s all the same with the exception of like two or three and those aren’t winning any awards either.

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