In this exclusive Q&A, we get to learn more about Pokéworks from one of its co-founders, Peter Yang.
Franchise Chatter (FC): Can you share a little bit about the Pokéworks concept and how it originated?
Peter Yang (PY): Pokéworks was founded in 2015 by myself, my brother Michael Wu, and a couple of our college buddies: Kevin Hsu and Kasper Hsu. The four of us shared a vision of bringing people quality and affordable flavorful food.
After many trips to Hawaii filled with lots of poke, we began to incorporate household snacks for added flavor and texture, which was how Pokéworks’ “Poke Your Way” motto was born. From there, we decided to bring our island favorite back to the Mainland for all to enjoy.
In January 2016, we introduced the poke burrito to the world with a viral Business Insider video that received more than 49 million views. Today, Pokéworks is a millennial-fueled brand bringing Hawaiian-inspired poké burritos and bowls to the masses, catering to the rising trend focusing on healthy and sustainable lifestyles.
The brand has become the largest and fastest-growing poke brand in the nation with more than 120 locations open and under development across the U.S. and Canada since 2016.
FC: How does Pokéworks stand out from other fast-casual concepts?
PY: Pokéworks’ chef-driven menu provides a fresh take on Hawaiian-inspired poke, using only the most authentic and highest quality ingredients. Working alongside our chef-collaborator, Sheldon Simeon – an alumnus of Bravo’s Top Chef and executive chef/owner of Maui’s Tin Roof – we are dedicated to continued research and development of our menu and recipes to ensure that the quality of our food is always at its peak potential. At Pokéworks, freshness and flavor reign above all else.
Another one of our many unique qualities at Pokéworks is our focus on sustainability efforts. Our high-quality menu includes a combination of sustainably-farmed fresh and wild caught seasonal features. Pokéworks only uses brands that are Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified “Fish to Eat” or recognized by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council as certified environmentally and socially responsible seafood.
But it doesn’t stop there, our sustainability efforts also go beyond the menu. On top of prioritizing sustainable food sources, we constantly put effort into finding sustainable building material for our restaurants. A number of our spaces use Forest Stewardship Council-certified reclaimed wood products. Being socially and environmentally responsible is our most important commitment.
FC: What makes Pokéworks an attractive business opportunity for potential franchisees?
PY: Pokéworks is the nation’s largest and fastest-growing poke brand and we have perfectly positioned it in the franchise industry with our core demographic representing the millennial generation – the largest purchasing segment in the nation – accounting for more than 75 million Americans. Our extraordinary consumer appeal has been fueled by the exceptional quality and affordability of our diverse chef-driven menu.
At Pokéworks, we are dedicated to the highest standards of intelligent investment and we have strategically created small, uncluttered yet cohesive restaurant designs (ranging from 500 to 2,000 sq. ft.), which include an inexpensive kitchen, easy-to-execute menu with no deep frying, no hood requirement, as well as the efficiency of a small foot-print and high potential revenue per square foot. Simple kitchens allow for substantially lower construction costs, reduced labor, and lower ongoing maintenance expenses for potential franchisees.
Another differentiator that sets us apart from other fast-casual brands is our operations efficiency. With our unique operations model, we have achieved a through-put of less than 25 seconds despite having more ingredient selections than many other build-your-own restaurant concepts. This translates to better sales and ultimately a better customer experience.
At Pokéworks, we offer franchise owners multiple revenue streams including dine-in, delivery, grab-n-go, and catering. To ensure each of our franchisees’ economic success, we offer a comprehensive franchisee training program and have dedicated support teams to assist in franchisee on-boarding, development, opening, and ongoing operations. While we realize there are other poke concepts available for investors, we pride ourselves in being the leaders in the number of units in development, infrastructure, capitalization, and market-readiness.
FC: What qualities do you look for in a potential franchisee? Which territories are you currently seeking for development?
PY: At Pokéworks, we are committed to methodically building our brand with professional franchisees who are philosophically aligned with our culture and passion for providing a high-quality poke experience at an affordable price. In addition to passion, an ideal Pokéworks franchisee candidate should have experience working in the food and beverage industry.
We are currently seeking multi-unit operators in primary and secondary markets, and welcome single unit development for smaller growing progressive markets in North America. We also welcome experienced multi-unit, international, and master franchisees with the tools and experience needed for success in their desired markets. Pokéworks is targeting primary expansion in markets in Texas, Florida, and California, among other states.
FC: What is the typical investment to open a Pokéworks?
PY: The initial franchise fee for Pokéworks is $35,000 with the total single-unit investment ranging from $250,000 to $850,000.
To learn more about Pokéworks and its franchise opportunities, please visit http://www.pokeworks.com/franchise/.