Finding the Middle East in New York City

By Jewél Jackson

Everyone says that New York is a melting pot of different cultures and that every part of the world is represented in this one city.

I represent one ingredient in that melting pot and coming 8,000 miles from the scorching sun and occasional sandstorms of Kuwait, I needed a fix of Middle Eastern food and Arabian people.

Luckily, I found the Halal Guys, a well-known established food company that serves Halal food from their 10 food trucks and three restaurants across the city.

The Halal Guys dates back to the 1990s and to its three Egyptian founders, Mohamed Abouelawin, Ahmed Al Saka, and Abdelbaset ElSayed.

Starting off as Manhattan taxi drivers in the 90’s, these three men found it difficult to find Halal food within the city without traveling to Brooklyn or Queens.

Noticing that there was a problem providing Halal food to Muslim taxi drivers, these three men took it upon themselves to find a solution.

So, they set up one food truck that served Halal food.

And from there, that one food truck has expanded into an international business that reaches all the way to Singapore to provide Halal food to any and everyone.

“We have a vision. We’re going to be the dominant and serve the best Halal food all over the world,” said Mohamed Ahmdein, the senior staff-training member.

But what is Halal?

“Halal is human[ily] raised and human[ily] slaughtered,” said Ahmedin, and follows Muslim religious law. He said that the Halal certifications can be found on the company’s website.

Walking into the Halal Guys restaurant on East 14th Street, you can see that this business is already rapidly expanding. Ahmedin pointed out that they were currently training a group of South Korean employees to work in their restaurants in NYC.

“Actually our Muslim customers is less than other customers because we are serving everyone,” said Ahmedin.

“White sauce, hot sauce, and halal” is what the Halal Guys are known for, said Ahmedin.

Without giving away the family secret he was able to tell me that the white sauce is “a creamy mayo base with citrus spices.”

“Yeah we have a lot of copycats for our white sauce out there,” he laughed.

With prices as low as $6 for a whole meal, the Halal Guys appeals to not only its Muslim customers but to any and every nationality that wishes to try Middle Eastern food.

“Hospitality, mouth watering food, and great prices is our standard,” said Ahmedin.

By following that standard the Halal Guys believe that they can continue to reach their goals of becoming an international sensation of serving Halal food.

Click here for “Authentic Middle Eastern Food Pleases Kuwait’s Palate”

Talent In The Streets

Manny the Famous Bubble Man performs in Central Park.

by Madison Cerniglia

You don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars to be amazed and dazzled by talented performers.  Just walk into a New York City park and experience a thoroughly entertaining show for free.

Central Park is one of the largest social hubs in New York City.  Tourists and New York locals can sit in the park to relax, eat a meal, play leisurely sports, or watch street performers.  

Many of the acts return often to Central Park to play for summer weekend crowds.

One of these acts is “The Black Guys Dancing.”

The Black Guys Dancing is a group of young men that combines dancing, acrobatics and comedy into a thrilling show that attracts large crowds.

Many would assume that street performers only put on shows to earn easy money, but that is not the case for these young men.

The founder of the group, Chris from the Bronx, said, “We’ve been dancing all our lives.”

The chemistry and passion within the group is evident as they perform their extremely popular show near the famous carousel.  At the first of their five shows on a Sunday afternoon, over 75 people stopped to watch.

They take turns doing impressive dance moves that are similar to breakdancing and acrobatics.  But what makes this show resonate with park-goers is the interaction with the audience.  

This is a common theme among the popular street performers.

Many might have seen the famous bubble man blow larger than life bubbles around the city.  But with so many catching onto the trend of performing with bubbles, what makes certain street artists more popular than the rest?

It all comes back to audience interaction.

Manny the Famous Bubble Man from Queens, N.Y., was receiving a constant flow of tips unlike the other “famous bubble guy” just a quarter mile further into the park.  What did Manny have that the other did not?

Manny’s bubbly personality drew people in.  He was not afraid to have a conversation or make jokes and this made him more likable to the public.

Manny was conscious about his audience and invited a young boy to help him blow a bubble.  Manny’s friendly spirit was contagious, which is most likely the reason his bucket contained many dollar bills.

The other bubble man had ear buds in and would not talk to anyone.  He still had an entertaining show, but he was missing a certain quality that Manny had.  

Walking around the city’s parks you see many performers: musicians, dancers, and novelty acts.  

Looking around at the tips these performers were making, it all came down to who made the most personal connections with the audience.

These personal connections seemed to stem from passion.

When speaking to The Black Guys Dancing and Manny the Famous Bubble Man, it was obvious that they loved what they do.

Street performing has trickled down to younger ages as well.

Alyssa Chetrick and Ivan Mendez are high school musicians who have had experience playing in the streets.

Ivan, a guitar player, said “I don’t give a f*** about the money.”

He made it very clear that the only reason he performs is because he is devoted to playing music.

Alyssa, who plays the violin, did stress that choosing what to play can be frustrating sometimes.  She said “There’s an extent of intellectual engagement that you try to get, but it’s not always easy.”

Both musicians agreed that they play what they want and try not to conform to what the general public wants.

“I always play how I’m feeling, and if they like my emotions they come,” said Ivan.

The joy all of these performers cannot be measured in the dollar bills they receive.  Even though they welcome the money, it is not the main reason many street performers are putting on their shows.

An entertaining and successful show has certain elements to it.  If you want to learn what they are and maybe become a street performer yourself, click here.


How to Become a (Legal) Street Performer

by Madison Cerniglia

  • Know the Law In NYC it is a requirement to have a permit when performing in or next to a park.  The last thing you want is to run into trouble with the police while in the middle of a show.
  • Understand the Crowd Flow Scout out local parks and street corners that lots of people visit.  If you become familiar with when and where the crowds are the largest, you can greatly increase your tips.  According to New York street performers, the busiest time of the year is the holidays.
  • Have a Unique Act Even though playing guitar can be very impressive, guitar players are a dime a dozen.  Find something that is unique.  If you are having difficulty standing out, try to include some crowd-pleaser elements in your act.  For example, if you are playing an instrument, try to perform 4-5 pop songs from the top of the charts.
  • Get the Audience Involved People are more likely to leave tips if you give them an experience they won’t forget.  Don’t be afraid to interact with them and maybe incorporate them into your act.Here is how it should be done.
  • Love What You Do This is the most important!  You cannot expect others to have a great time if you aren’t.  Make sure you are passionate about your show and share that with others.



What Do Teenagers Do In NYC?

By Meghan Riley

Sena Cheung (17, left) and Sebastian Flores (16, right) enjoying a Friday night in Central Park
Sena Cheung (17, left) and Sebastian Flores (16, right) enjoying a Friday night in Central Park

Even in a city that never sleeps, teenagers sometimes have trouble finding age appropriate things to do on a Friday night in New York City, according to an informal survey.

Once teenagers are allowed to go out with their friends without supervision, they need to find something to fill their time.

The survey showed that about 71% of teenagers are allowed to go out at 14 years old or younger, 14% are allowed to go out at 15 years old, 7% are allowed out at 16 and 7% are allowed out at 17 years old or older.

This doesn’t mean that kids are allowed to roam free and do whatever they want.

“My mother won’t let me go out at certain times,” says Amber Miranda from the Bronx, “And there are things that are too far, like Brooklyn.”

The survey also showed that almost 79% of teenagers have a strict curfew to follow. Almost 36% of kids have some kind of boundary from how far they can go from their house. And the other 28% have some other kind of restriction.

Once teenagers are allowed the option to go out and be with their friends, they have to find things to do.

Only 14% of teenagers who took the survey said that they had trouble finding thing to do in New York City this summer.

Parks, movie theaters and cheap restaurants are all popular places for teenagers to hang out on the weekends, according to the survey.

However, in order to go to movies or restaurants teenagers need money.

A large 86% of kids who took the survey said that their parents in some way pay for them to do things with their friends.

Only 14% percent said their parents always pay for them to go out with their friends, and half of the survey takers said that their parents only pay for them sometimes.

“Finding cheap things to do is imperative when you’re in New York City for the summer” said 17 year old Michelle from San Diego.

Over 57% of answers from the survey said that they can only spend $20 or less when they go out with their friends.

Less than half of the survey takers said that they pay more than that on a regular basis.

Teenagers, especially starving college students, need inexpensive options for things to do in New York City.

It is after all one of the most expensive cities to live in, according to CBS MoneyWatch.

Even just walking around the streets on a Friday evening can leave teenagers with few age appropriate options, says NYU PreCollege residential and commuter students alike.

The streets that are filled with bars and nightclubs and expensive restaurants can be distracting and leave some kids thinking there is nothing else to do, according to the 14% of survey takers that had a hard time finding things to do.

When teenagers get bored and see a row of bars on St Marks Place, they look for ways in, according to the residential advisers who were in charge of the PreCollege students this summer.. This means they search for fake IDs and can get caught and in a lot of trouble for having one.

Out of the 20% of students who took a separate informal survey, only half of their fake IDs worked and got them into bars in New York City.

The other half were caught and their IDs were taken from them on site, according to NYU PreCollege students who were with the group that got carded.

The Fakes Epidemic; Underage Drinking and Fake IDs

Cheap Things To Do In NYC


Cheap Things To Do In NYC

What is there to do year round in New York City? Let me tell you!



Asia Society Museum

725 Park Avenue, New York, NY



Free on Fridays from 6pm to 9pm

Under 16 free entrance always

Association with Hunter College is free admission


American Museum of Natural History

79th Street and Central Park West, New York, NY


Suggested admission fee is $22 for adults, not mandatory


The Guggenheim

1071 5th Avenue, New York, NY


Admission fee is suggested, pay as you wish on Saturdays 5:45pm to 7:45pm


The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY

200 Eastern Parkway Museum


Admission fee is suggested, pay as you wish

$4 discounts for students


Whitney Museum of American Art

99 Gansevoort Street, New York, NY


Fridays from 7pm to 10pm admission is pay as you wish

Association with New York University is free admission


Museum of the City of New York

1220 5th Avenue, New York, NY


Suggested admissions fee is $14 for adults and $10 for students, pay as you wish

19 and Under are free



Conservatory Gardens at Central Park

Entrance at 5th Avenue and 105th Street or 106th Street gate inside Central Park



Botanical Gardens

2900 Southern Blvd, Bronx, NY


Weekdays student price $18, Weekends student price  $22


Sports Games

Mets Games

$10 promenade level seating for students, rush list


Yankee Games

Half priced tickets for students at the Ticket Window



Broadway Shows

Discounted tickets to day-of performances


AMC Movie Theaters

Discounted movie tickets on Thursdays for Students


Exercise Classes

Yoga Classes

10 class card for $100 with student ID, 5 class card for $50 with student ID