Halal restaurant opens in Illini Union


Kenyon Edmond

People stand in line at Garbanzo in the basement of the Illini Union. The restaurant opened Thursday.

By The Daily Illini Staff Report

As the first restaurant with Halal offerings on campus, Garbanzo was introduced by franchisees Britton Wiedemann and Tom Weigand. The duo is known for opening several Noodles & Company restaurants.

The restaurant will feature a stand-alone bakery area where guests can see the entire cooking process, including the pitas being kneaded and placed into the oven.

“We believe the addition of Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh to the on-campus dining options fits in very well with the University’s focus on providing better-for-you brands to its large, diverse and international student body,” said Devin Handler, director of marketing for Garbanzo, in an email.

He said all students are more conscious of what they’re eating and want food that is healthier, less processed and more sustainable, and Garbanzo offers that.

Handler said based on student body surveys conducted over the past two years, students have ranked Mediterranean as one of the most desired, non-represented concepts, coupled with a demand for options that fit within dietary restrictions of all kinds.

“Garbanzo serves delicious and nutritious preservative-free meals in a convenient and affordable format, on campus, that will not only make guests feel better but help them to perform better as well,” he said.

Handler said because the University ranks No.2 among the nation’s top public institutions in welcoming international students, it is important to them, and the University, to offer inclusive solutions.

“We want to make it easy to find reasonably priced delicious offerings for all special diets, allergies or food preferences, whether that’s gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan or Halal,” he said.

He said the entire menu, including the meat, is Halal and permissible within Islamic dietary standards.

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