Kelly Baughman | Photos by Josh Moates/KimBox Photography
NYC Gyro brings the essence of New York to Alabama with a side of Southern hospitality.
Co-owners and brothers Ali Nawaz and Sayed Nawaz grew up in Pakistan but relocated to Brooklyn, New York, where they spent many years enjoying the ethnic variety of foods the eclectic city has to offer.
“We used to frequent a gyro spot in New York that was open 24-7, and it always offered delicious food at an affordable price that always satisfied our group. When my brother and I moved to Montgomery, we really missed the presence of ethnic food and culture. He was already in the restaurant business here with a fried chicken restaurant, so we decided to team up and bring something different to the area with NYC Gyro,” Ali said.
Ali said they realized that bringing ethnic food to the South was a gamble, and they were afraid people would shy away from trying things like lamb but were pleasantly surprised at the response they got from the people of Montgomery. “We opened, and a lot of people came in and said they had never tried food like ours before. They took a chance on us, and we had an amazing first week. Since then, business has been going strong, and we are thankful that the people of Montgomery have given us a chance and been open minded about our food,” he said.
What sets NYC Gyro apart is the Nawaz brother’s dedication to the freshest ingredients. “Our lamb is fresh and never frozen, and we don’t believe in using any canned goods in our food. We use all fresh ingredients and go the extra mile to do things like boil our own chickpeas instead of using pre-boiled canned chickpeas with preservatives. It may take a little longer, but you can taste it in the food,” Ali said.
Ali said his favorite item on the menu is the house-made falafel, a deep-fried goodness made from ground chickpeas with onions and spices, but he said his favorite thing about the restaurant is being able to build a rapport with his customers. “We have great food, but more importantly, we try our best to be a ‘mom and pop’ style restaurant where people have access to us as the owners. It is important to us to be hands-on in our restaurants and make sure people have a good experience. We love the Southern hospitality that you find in the South and have made it a part of how we care for our customers as well,” he said.
Montgomery has two NYC Gyro locations, 15 Commerce Street in downtown Montgomery and Bell Street near Maxwell Air Force Base. In addition to those two locations, NYC Gyro has a gorgeous new food truck that you will see at local events or on campus at Auburn on weekdays. These brothers are excited to announce that it will soon be opening 2 more brick and mortar restaurants in Auburn and Chattanooga in the coming weeks.
“We are thrilled that Alabama has embraced my brother and me and our food, and we are committed to continue bringing the best quality ethnic food to the area with a smile and great service,” Ali added.