Last updated on October 15th, 2019 at 11:12 am
Chicago-based Aloha Poké Co. is expanding to Wauwatosa.
The chain plans to open its second Milwaukee-area restaurant at 1417 N. Wauwatosa Ave. in late February or early March of 2020, said co-owner Thomas Wang.
Wang, a Milwaukee native, opened Aloha’s first area location in June 2018 at 220 E. Buffalo St. in the Historic Third Ward.
The company currently operates about 30 locations in the Chicago area, Minneapolis, Washington D.C. and Boca Raton, Florida, said Wang. It started franchising in June, aiming have 100 locations open and in development in the Midwest, Southeast and Mid-Atlantic by 2022, according to its website.
Wang said he would be ready to open additional Milwaukee-area stores whenever he finds the best locations and spaces for the concept.
“The demographic has to be the right demographic, but we want to expand wherever the opportunities are… Wauwatosa is a perfect community,” he said. “We would love to be in Brookfield, the North Shore, Mequon, those areas. It has a lot of potential.”
Aloha will take over the 859-square-foot Wauwatosa site on Nov. 1 and begin a complete build it out as soon as permits are obtained. It will have seating for 20 people and a take-out counter, and will be designed similarly to other Aloha locations.
The space is considerably smaller than its 1,700-square-foot Third Ward restaurant, but Wang said he’s pleased with its prime location in the heart of the Wauwatosa Village.
Aloha is one of several fast-casual poke concepts that have opened in Milwaukee over the past two years, joining others such as Milwaukee-based FreshFin Poké; Chicago-based Fusion Poke; Irvine, California-based Pokéworks; Wauwatosa-based R&R Poké and Milwaukee-based Fuji Poke.
Poké is raw fish – usually tuna or salmon – popularly served bowl-style with other ingredients, including seaweed, avocado, edamame and cucumber, over rice, leafy greens or other grains.
Wang believes the poké trend, both locally and nationally, is here to stay.
“It’s a very healthy concept and it tastes good,” he said. “It’s a healthy option, especially for vegans and vegetarians… I think that healthier eating is going to be the future.”
Especially because younger generations are naturally interested in eating healthier than past generations did, he said.
“Lot of kids who are 15, 16, 17 year olds are coming in are they’re ordering differently than what I was ordering at that age– it’s not all Burger King, McDonald’s, Culver’s,” Wang said.