By Esha Bhatti

For The Diamondback

A new halal-certified Mediterranean restaurant is now open on Campus Drive.

Legends Halal Grill, located adjacent to the Domain College Park apartment complex, opened its second branch on Aug. 24 in College Park, adding to its Windsor Mill location. The restaurant hopes its Mediterranean cuisine will not only provide a fresh food option for the University of Maryland community, but also another halal food option for Muslim students at this university.

Shershah Popal and Amanullah Noory, co-owners of Legends Halal Grill, highlighted the freshness and quality of the restaurant’s food.

“Everything is made fresh. Nothing is frozen,”  Popal said.

The restaurant’s menu includes chicken and lamb platters, gyros, chicken sandwiches and french fries.

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The owners said the restaurant has seen a significant increase in the number of students dining as the school year has progressed.

Udayver Makkar, a senior finance and operations management and business analytics major, said he has been a regular customer at Legends since it opened. Makkar highlighted that there is one menu item that keeps him coming back.

“I really enjoy platters like the chicken over rice,” Makkar said. “I’ve been to some places in Baltimore for them, but having one in the school was something that I really looked forward to.”

Legends Halal Grill has also received several catering orders by this university’s Muslim Student Association due to the restaurant’s “zabiha halal” certification, Popal noted.

While the term “halal” — “permissible” in Arabic — typically refers to foods that do not contain pork or alcohol, “zabiha halal” includes additional guidelines regarding how the meat is processed. Some of the conditions for meat to be considered “zabiha” include the animal being healthy and mentioning the name of God prior to butchering, according to Halal Food Council USA.

According to Popal, Legends Halal Grill receives its meat from Shah Halal Food and Products, a distributor that is certified by Halal Food Council USA.

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Several students at this university emphasized the importance of adding another trusted halal option near campus.

Like Makkar, junior information systems and supply chain management major Ismaeel Ibrahim also recommended the chicken over rice. In addition, Ibrahim said he appreciates having an additional halal restaurant near campus.

“[It’s important] to give Muslim students more variety rather than just going to the same place all the time,” Ibrahim said.

Legends is a three-minute walk from Tawes Hall, making it the closest off-campus halal dining option.

Increasing halal food options around campus has been a priority for Muslim students at this university in the past.

Last March, the MSA and Resident Hall Association hosted a town hall to call upon this university’s dining halls to supply halal meat that is certified by Halal Food Standards Alliance of America and provide a greater selection of halal foods.

Junior information science and operations management and business analytics major Adam Ghannoum, the MSA president, said the initiative to change the dining hall’s halal procedures was not implemented due to its cost. However, Ghannoum believes that Legends helps fulfill some of the student organization’s goals, including building a community.

“It helps to see the vision that we have a trusted business that is serving halal food in the area,” Ghannoum said. “This is definitely a great addition to shaping the social fabric of the Muslim community and also creating and contributing to the overall vision of having a healthy social fabric.”