Aloha Poke Co. announced plans for 11 new locations in the Houston-metro market by 2025. The Houston expansion nearly doubles Aloha Poke’s total franchise location holdings and is the first move into the Texas market. This first wave of development in the Lone Star State leads a long-term development plan across other metroplex areas including Dallas/Fort Worth and Austin, Texas.
“Aloha Poke Co is excited and extremely proud to launch into Texas with these first stores already in development within the Houston market,” says Paul Tripodes, VP Franchise Development, Aloha Poke Co. “Houston is one of the fastest growing and culturally diverse cities in the nation and we are very excited to launch into this very important market with two exciting and dedicated franchisees.”
Leading the franchise expansion is Baryalay Razi who was Aloha Poke’s first franchisee with a three-unit deal in Maryland. Razi story reads like a Hollywood movie script that starts with a role representing his native country of Afghanistan at the United Nations to working in a Texas Whataburger kitchen three days after leaving his post for safety concerns and applying for political asylum. Razi is no stranger to the fast casual landscape having risen through the ranks at Whataburger for nearly twenty years with the highest position being regional director of operations. Razi is also a longtime Bojangles franchisee with five locations. Razi’s jump into the Houston market with Aloha Poke builds a legacy of wealth for his two daughters who are poised to take control of the Houston market expansion. Razi’s first Houston store will open late summer/early fall 2021.
Also jumping into the post-pandemic franchise opportunity is husband and wife team, Amanda and Corey Tabb, who will open their Aloha Poke in Cypress, Texas, just northwest of Houston. Both Corey and Amanda continue to have successful careers in the energy industry and are launching their first Aloha Poke location late summer 2021. Like Razi, the Tabb family is looking to take more control of their future finances, while contributing positively to their community by offering more healthier, fast-casual food options.
Demonstrating the success of the concept’s brand promise to offer fast, fresh-packed sushi-grade fish and Hawaiian-inspired raw ingredients, Aloha Poke’s practice of a transparent FDD, smaller brick and mortar buildouts, and sustainable food logistics makes the brand an attractive business opportunity for a wide range of entrepreneurs looking to expand into the fast casual/quick-service market. According to industry analysts, the poke foods market is expected to grow by $1.2B by 2024. Aloha Poke franchising is uniquely poised to meet this growing demand with consumers looking for new, innovative ways to eat healthier while still on the go.
“Aloha Poke is the perfect example of where consumer trends are heading within the fast casual space,” adds Tripodes. “This past year has been a difficult one for restaurants, but our expansion is due to offering a fresh, healthful menu created and distributed using the most sustainable practices available today. We look forward to many more opportunities for growth.”
With the sharp acceleration of convenience trends as a result of the pandemic, the challenge for restaurateurs and brands right now is to try to imagine what customers will want post-COVID. In some respects, it may be that they want to go back to experiential concepts because they haven't been able to for some time.
“I think the restaurant of the future will be oriented towards less friction between the customer and the ordering experience, less reliance on a differentiated physical brand experience, and more focused on the digital experience with a brand and functionality of the footprint for the consumer,” says Tripodes. “Seats in counter-service dining rooms will still have their place, but far less so. The restaurant of the future is being reimagined right now.”