Orlando fast-casual chain Island Fin Poke is announcing a development plan to open 20 new build-your-own poke bowl restaurants in West Florida over the next few years. The franchise, which currently has one location open in Wesley Chapel, will have new locations opening up in the area in the new year. A Sarasota location is set to open in January, and additional units in Carrollwood, Trinity, and St. Petersburg are expected to open in the first half of 2021. 

This announcement comes in response to a new partnership between Island Fin Poke and Matthew McNulty, Managing Partner of Pelagic Hospitality Group, who is serving as an Area Representative to help expand the brand’s presence in West Florida. The group is responsible for development of Island Fin Poke restaurants in Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee, and Collier Counties. In addition to being the Area Representative, Pelagic acquired three franchises initially and will open more as the market dictates. The remaining locations will be owned by other local franchisees. Skilled in finance, operations, and sales, McNulty brings 25 years of business experience to Island Fin Poke. He began his career on Wall Street before transitioning to operational and strategy consulting, and now serves as Senior Vice President of Global Sales for IRONSCALES, a cybersecurity tech firm.

“As a St. Petersburg native, I am so excited to help Island Fin Poke grow in the area. I think that poke is such an underserved segment in the quick-service restaurant market; it’s a unique menu with plenty of healthy and fresh options,” says McNulty. “The people here will definitely enjoy what Island Fin Poke has to offer.” 

The restaurant provides guests with boat to bowl, locally and responsibly sourced ingredients for each individual to create their own perfect poke bowl. With eight proteins, over 25 toppings, house-made sauces and specialty mix-ins, the endless possibilities allow guests to get creative and try something new every visit. With the restaurant’s comfortable beach shack environment, co-founder Mark Setterington hopes to bring residents straight to Hawaii as they enjoy fresh and healthy meals. 

Of the 20 locations coming to the area, the brand already has commitments from local franchisees for nine of them. They are eyeing areas like St. Petersburg, Sarasota, and Tampa, among others within McNulty’s eight county territory. He is working to bring new franchisees into the ohana to help expand the brand’s presence across West Central and Southwest Florida.

After working in the restaurant industry for 36 years and overseeing 10 restaurants throughout Las Vegas and Los Angeles, Setterington decided to launch Island Fin Poke to bring guests high-quality poke in an immersive tropical environment. The first location opened in Winter Springs, and over the past three years Island Fin Poke has grown to 10 locations across five states. Island Fin Poke now has over 30 locations in various stages of development across the country. 

“Mark was a huge reason why we decided to join Island Fin Poke,” adds McNulty. “The guest experience is his number one priority and he makes sure that every franchise owner understands that and lives by it. Having a business partner like Mark who embodies these principles and does everything to make sure that each guest has a warm and interactive experience is so important. When you walk through the doors of an Island Fin Poke, you can expect to be welcomed right into the ohana.”

Emerging Concepts, Fast Casual, Franchising, Growth, News, Island Fin Poké