Honolulu-born & raised Raymond Reyes — a native to the State of Hawaii who took his dreams of business ownership to the next level with Uncle Sharkii Poke Bar — has reached new heights with 37 contracts currently signed for the innovative poke brand, all in different stages of development.
Together with his wife, Fen Reyes, who serves as the CEO and who founded the brand with him, Reyes has developed a dynamic quick-service poke brand that has already achieved a vast national reach and currently covers six states —California, Utah, Hawaii, Texas, Nevada, and Arizona.
Currently serving as the Chief Operating Officer, Reyes has worked hard to navigate the waters of both national and international expansion. He draws on his 12+ years of International Trade, Customs and Federal Law Enforcement to cultivate an environment of productivity, innovation, and teamwork for the company. Within the ocean of explosively popular poke culture across the US — over 700 brands being developed in 5 short years — Uncle Sharkii stands firm as one of the only few brands to be curated by a Hawaii local like Reyes.
Uncle Sharkii has sunk its teeth into a thriving in-demand market and its essence of differentiation lies within its background. Uncle Sharkii is one of the only national poke brands that was founded by someone who grew up eating, breathing, and living all the paradisiacal essence that Hawaii represents.
“My late grandmother was born and raised in Hawaii to Filipino farm workers in Hawaii. I remember all her stories from her being an avid Hula Dancer in her youth to being raised on island life in paradise,” recalls Reyes. “I have memories of her always taking me and my brother on ‘THE BUS’ all over Oahu running errands, her hanging out the clothes to dry in the hot Hawaiian sun, and of course, who can’t forget, her bomb recipes of ‘Fried Spam Saimin’ on Sundays. Those days were easy, simple, and really made an impact on me as a Son of Hawaii.”
The brand is the answer to entrepreneur hopes for the Reyes family, recently breaking ground in the heart of Waikiki, literally steps away from the world-famous Waikiki Beach. The brand validates what it means to follow the heart for other locals, becoming an international phenomenon, rooted within Reyes’ hometown of Honolulu. “Growing up in Hawaii was simple, but it helped form the Local Boy Entrepreneur that I’m today,” states Reyes.
So, what is the story behind Uncle Sharkii Poke Bar?
It all started with Ohana — a Hawaiian ideal that heritage is binding and there is no compromising when it comes to family loyalty. The brand was born from an overseas family gathering and has left its Ohana-esque focus intact ever since. It began when the Reyes family’s daughter, Melody Reyes, was gifted a plush shark by an uncle she had never met before. The bond between the unacquainted family members was instantaneous, sealed by celebration over boba milk tea, fried snacks, and ice cream.
From then on, Uncle Sharkii has continued its undying dedication to bringing families together over healthy eating and a family-friendly atmosphere.
Reyes isn’t just another lover of poke who adopted a passion for the fare — the unique cuisine is a part of who he is, where he came from, and what he loves about the island culture. “I have lots of family in Hawaii and I literally grew up with the local Hawaiian values which include Family, respecting the land, and just enjoying life in paradise,” stated Reyes.
This is why Uncle Sharkii’s story is engaging, capturing the hearts of its fans, drawing them into the very unadulterated authenticity that only a brand with true roots can offer.
Reyes brought his own Californian twist from his time on the mainland, to traditional poke within the Uncle Sharkii offerings. The all-inclusive menu consists of Uncle Sharkii’s Signature Hawaiian Poke Bowls that maintain the original simplicity of the dish, complemented by modern customizability. They also serve the extremely popular Dole Soft Serve. “Growing up throughout my youth I have fond memories of going to the Dole Plantation to have a Pineapple Soft Serve treat on the weekend,” states Reyes. “I literally grew up a short 10-minute drive from there.”
Set on raising the bar in the poke industry, all Uncle Sharkii poke bowls have fewer ingredients than its competitors. This means more protein and less fluff, creating an uncompromised, truly Hawaiian poke experience in every bite.
The fast casual model is conducive to a plethora of markets. In fact, it’s Reyes’ deep knowledge and extensive background in international affairs that transcends cultural lines and keeps the Uncle Sharkii conversation flowing around the globe. As for expansion plans for Uncle Sharkii, lines are cast for Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas.
Together with his wife, the duo has maintained a genuinity for the menu and the company culture. With all the success and rapid expansion, Uncle Sharkii remains true to Hawaii thanks to Reyes, his roots, and his unwavering dedication to the essence of the islands’ culture.