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They Came Back for Food

Nik Schultz, at left, and Jamal Rasoully in the Campus Center. (Photo by Mark Schmidt)

ALBANY, N.Y. (October 25, 2017) — When Nik Schultz ’08 and Jamal Rasoully ’11 frequented the Campus Center as students, neither one of them thought they’d be running restaurants there just a few years later.

Schultz, who studied History and Education, is the mastermind behind the popular Nikos Café, a Greek eatery featuring souvlaki, gyros, Greek fries, salads and more, while Rasoully brings the best of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors to the campus with the Halal Shack.

Schultz was a former Great Dane football player and admits he “wasn’t the best student at the beginning of my studies.” However, he credits that roundabout journey — and also legendary Coach Bob Ford — for his success with Nikos.

“I was able to improve my grades and become a leader on the football field at UAlbany,” he said. “It was during this time that I made connections and grew a network in and around the University that is directly attributable to my initial success in owning my own business.”

Though their cuisines may be different, Schultz and Rasoully agree on at least one thing: that the energy and buzz in the Campus Center is the most desirable part of their locations.

“Working at the Campus Center allows me to be around young, energetic people full of life and ambition, and Coach Ford always said working on a college campus is one of the most fulfilling things that anyone can do in their professional career,” said Schultz. “It’s true: being able to deliver delicious food and excellent service to someone who may be having a bad day is why I do it.”

Rasoully, who studied Accounting at UAlbany, already knew a thing or two about running a successful food joint from growing up in a family of established restaurateurs. Despite that ingrained knowledge, he still credits his time at UAlbany for his success.

“My time as a student gave direction to my ambition,” he said. “From the basics of time management to capstone courses that taught me how to make business plans, it was a vital role in my growth and really propelled me in preparation to be a business owner.”

Rasoully’s goal for the Halal Shack was simple: “to unite cultures and people through food, one Sauce'n meal at a time!” Based on the steady flurry of customers and the welcoming nature of the Halal Shack staff, it’s presumable that his vision has been realized. Halal Shack also has a charitable component, donating a portion of its proceeds to local charities.

Though Nikos and the Halal Shack keep the two alums busy, the duo’s work doesn’t stop at the Campus Center. Schultz owns NC Schultz LLC, which runs Anton’s Greek Restaurant on Albany’s New Scotland Avenue, caters events, and operates Spartan Fit Meals. Rasoully owns his Spin Sauce business, which donates 10% of its proceeds to orphanages and communities around the world. He also works in real estate and is a restauranteur in two other states.

Their advice for current students who might want to follow the same track? Focus on what you can learn from your mistakes, and pay attention to the little details along the way.

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