Aloha Poke Co, Chicago’s Hawaiian-style Fast Casual poke restaurant chain, announced that Chris Birkinshaw was appointed Chief Executive Officer. Birkinshaw joins Aloha Poke following six years in successive senior management positions at Potbelly Sandwich Works.

“I am thrilled to step in as CEO. My passion for Aloha Poke comes not only from my love for Poke Bowls, but also for the opportunity to seize the growing movement toward ‘clean food’ in the fast casual market,” says Birkinshaw.  “I look forward to building and streamlining company operations and working with our passionate team to drive the business forward.”

Birkinshaw brings 18 years of deep expertise working with national chains in the Fast Casual restaurant industry.  He started his career at Starbucks in store-level operations, eventually moving to Potbelly Sandwich Works, where he held senior management positions across departments including Operations Services, District and Regional Operations and Franchising.

As CEO, Birkinshaw will lead Aloha Poke’s growth trajectory, focusing on driving operational excellence through multi-unit store operations, new market development, franchise growth and joint venture partnerships. Birkinshaw will leverage his hands-on management style to foster high levels of engagement with corporate and store teams while creating a superior in-store environment for customers.

“Chris’ reputation as a dynamic and incisive leader combined with his broad industry knowledge quickly made it clear to us that he was the right person to lead Aloha Poke,” says Michelle Joseph, CEO & Founder of PeopleFoundry, the executive recruitment consultancy that handled the search for Aloha’s CEO.  “Over the course of his career, Chris has demonstrated an exceptional ability to foster teamwork, build corporate culture and earn the trust of those around him – qualities that will be central to the company’s aggressive growth plans in the years ahead.”  

In addition to its nine Chicago-area locations, Aloha Poke also has locations in Minneapolis, Denver, Los Angeles, Orange County, and Washington D.C. Aloha Poke is backed by investor partners including Levy Family Partners and Lakeview Investment Group. The company has plans to grow its brand with the addition of eight new locations across the U.S. in 2018. 

Employee Management, News, Potbelly