Poke franchising – The Appeal

In an ever-changing world, food trends seem to be the ones that come and go the quickest, but also the ones that make themselves known for the longest amount of time. Cupcakes, cakepops, and frozen yogurt were once trends which have now passed on to be some of the staples for many people around the world. When thinking of healthy food, salads are what come straight to mind, and with good reason— there are so many ways to structure a salad so as to get the daily vitamins and nutrients needed that there really isn’t a way to go wrong. Where there’s food, there’s a trend, and that’s where poke comes in.

Poke is a traditional Hawaiian dish, mainly sold as street food. Its main selling point is the raw salmon or tuna that rests atop a delicious base of steamed rice, topped with sesame seeds and your choice of nuts (usually macadamia). It’s usually sold as a bowl including the aforementioned ingredients, but the fish steaks can also be eaten by themselves and topped with vegetables as a salad sans grains.

In the continental United States poke made its debut in the state of California, due to being so close to the dish’s state of origin. Originally sold in shacks along the beach and within neighborhoods with a strong Hawaiian presence, the dish has taken the rest of the country by storm, with establishments popping up in the mainland at an alarming rate. Poke franchising is a viable business venture, especially in densely populated cities away from the West Coast, because it allows consumers who have never been close to Hawaii to enjoy a delicacy they otherwise might have never come across.

Poke franchising


Poke franchising has a low barrier of entry, allowing for interested parties to follow through with their business idea— of course, it all still depends on location. Southern California may seem like the obvious choice to potential franchisees, however, since many big names in the poke industry have already made a home there, it might be less daunting to branch to other states. One such example is LemonShark Poke, with their five initial locations in California and one further out East in Orlando, Florida. Their main goal, as of 2018, is to open as many as 500 locations nationwide with many of them being outside of California.

Because of the low barrier of entry, poke franchising makes it difficult to stand out. Many poke restaurants have made it a point to mark their territory and decide exactly what makes them different from the rest— Uncle Sharkii Poke, for example, has become a household name by offering both poke and bubble tea to their customers for a more cohesive menu, as well as implementing a food court-style dining experience. Nevertheless, standing out from the crowd can be as simple as sourcing the best ingredients from reputable vendors and ensuring that consumers are aware of the practices behind their food.

In major cities of land-locked states, poke franchising can prove to be a majorly beneficial business venture on account of offering a completely different cuisine than what’s available already. Fresh ingredients and easily customizable dishes allow customers to choose for themselves, making exotic food feel as close to home as possible for those who aren’t ready to take the full plunge into an unknown fare. All of these points combined with the ease of storage of ingredients, nonessential cooking appliances (the whole point of poke is that it’s raw, after all), and the increasing interest in diverse cuisine across the country, poke franchising seems like a no-brainer.

Poke franchising

The Cons of Poke

Although, even with all the potential benefits, poke franchising doesn’t come without its own risks. Climate change poses a threat for most industries, and fishing is one of them— rising temperatures in the ocean due to global warming has driven certain fish species to look for deeper, cooler waters. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the number of overfished species has tripled in fifty years, and has pushed marine ecosystems to their limits.

Sustainable businesses are often costly, especially where third-party suppliers are involved, but are often the kind of enterprises that rake in the largest public. Health-conscious eaters are usually environmentally-conscious as well, and are attracted to companies committed to sound practices. However, for franchisees and franchisors alike, environmentally-conscious decisions often come at the expense of more complex business models, requiring more time and ample budgets.

Something else to keep in mind is that while poke is a traditional dish in Hawaii and some western states, for the rest of the mainland United States it can simply stay as what it began— a trend. Interest fluctuates, and businesses keep up with it by further reinventing themselves every so often, though that may not be the case with poke. There’s only so many ways to make the same kind of fish and the same kind of bowl, only so many combinations of grains, protein, and vegetables to appease an increasingly larger public.

In the end, poke franchising is just as any other business with its pros and cons, though with the added benefit of an interested public. As an investment, based on the foreign appeal of the food as well as the ample space for growth across the country, and both the low startup costs and entry barriers, poke franchising is a sound decision. For further information about poke franchising and its benefits, follow this link.