Amidst an ongoing pandemic, a once small poké restaurant looks to continue its big plans for national expansion. Island Fin Poké, the fast-casual poké franchise specializing in unique, wholesome poké creations, has grown from its original corporate location in Lake Nona, to opening more than 16 restaurants in eight different states. The brand now looks to continue pushing forward its proven business model to propel its growth in 2021.
Founded in 2017 and offering franchising opportunities since 2018, Island Fin Poké, currently has 9 additional units in various stages of development. The Florida-based franchise expects to have up to 25 total restaurants open and operating by the end of 2021 with an additional 6 location opening in early 2022.
“If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that there is a strong demand for fast, healthy and simple meals out there,” says Island Fin Poké co-founder Mark Setterington. “Our locations were perfectly suited to adapt to the pandemic-related change in consumer preferences which allowed us not only to retain our business, but actually grow. Our meals are simple, healthy and easily offered through third-party delivery options and curbside pickup. We understood that while we needed to slightly change how we operated, we should always stay true to the ideal that make our brand truly special, our concept of Ohana.”
Island Fin Poké and its Ohana concept were first created when Mark met Paul Reas in 2004 at Bahama Breeze, a Caribbean restaurant & grill. Mark had just relocated his family to Orlando to be the General Manager at one of the restaurant’s Orlando locations and Paul was his bar manager. From day one, the two were more like brothers than friends and their relationship became rooted in the Hawaiian culture of Ohana (“The family”). The families grew close as their children grew up and countless boat days, days off and vacations were spent together. It was this brother-like relationship that created an idea of opening a restaurant together. Fast forward 13 years later, and the Island Fin Poké concept was born.
Today, Island Fin Poké’s Hawaiian-style poké follows the original essence of the dish: farm-to-fork, all locally and responsibly sourced. Guests can build their own bowls by choosing from eight proteins, over 25 toppings, house made sauces and mix-ins. Starting with a base of white rice, brown rice or spring mix, diners can add proteins such as Ahi tuna, spicy tuna, shrimp and chicken. Toppings include mango, pickled ginger and crispy garlic, and a variety of mix-ins such as edamame, corn, sweet onions and jalapeno. Ponzu and shoyu are among the freshly made marinating sauces, and finishing sauces include avocado sauce and wasabi cream.
“Not only does our food live up to the authentic and traditional standards of Hawaii, but our company culture reflects our value of Ohana as well,” adds Setterington. “Prioritizing the maintenance of our company’s culture, we believe, has helped shield us from some of the employee retainment problems currently affecting the restaurant industry. As our Ohana expands, we look for franchisees who embody the same values our brand cherishes and share our passion for high-quality food creations.”
Island Fin Poké offers two different types of franchise opportunities – single-unit franchises that allow one to operate their own restaurant in a protected territory of their choice and area development franchises for those looking to lock down a larger territory. Including a franchise fee of $40,000, the initial investment to open a 900-1,500 square foot location is $194,000-$355,000.