In 2015 when Pokeworks opened its first location in Manhattan, the team never imagined how popular poke, a little-known Hawaiian dish traditionally made with raw fish and rice, would soon become.
That first Pokeworks location happened to be next to the city’s first Chick-fil-A, and in the early days, the lines outside were for chicken sandwiches not poke bowls.
The location was a blessing in disguise, though, recalled Kevin Hsu, the CMO of Pokeworks, on the NRN Extra Serving Podcast. Chick-fil-A consumers soon started familiarize themselves with poke. Then came the lines and the press. Soon after a video featuring their sushi burrito went viral.
This sort of attention could easily make a for a food fad, and one that might fade fast. But, Hsu argues, poke is something people can eat all the time, and Pokeworks, specifically, has staying power thanks to its focus on educating consumers and bringing unusual ingredients and flavors to the masses.
“Even though it hits a very strong trend, a lot of our guests tell us, and also it shows in our results, [poke is] really something that they can see eating every day.”
And more and more consumers are eating poke regularly. Today Pokeworks has about 40 locations with 100 new stores in the works.
Contact Gloria at [email protected]
Find her on Twitter: @GloriaDawson