Aloha Poke Co. continues its expansion as owner Zach Friedlander and his crew are opening a location in suburban Evanston. The fourth Aloha Poke Co. should open in January at 630 Davis St. Friedlander also said he plans on opening more locations around Chicago, and is looking at spots in South Florida and Denver.
Friedlander doesn’t have a magic number for expansion. He joked about opening 100 locations including interplanetary expansion on Saturn. The original location in Chicago’s French Market has become a sleeper hit, joining a location at Revival Food Hall and his first stand-alone location on Belmont Avenue in Lakeview.
The Evanston spot will be similar to the Lakeview location with about 10 bar stools inside a 700-square-foot space. They’ll also have outdoor space, with room for 15 to 20 seats. They’ve just started demolition on the site.
Food wise, expect more of the same, although Friedlander said they’re experimenting with new sauces to flavor those raw fish bowls. Though there may be additions, but Friedlander doesn’t want drastic changes, preferring the simplicity of the existing model. There’s also a possibility of a fortune cookie made out of taro.
The company’s popularity has drawn the attention of big-name investors. Crain’s has details on a seven-figure investment from a group that includes Wiener’s Circle co-owner Ari Levy. They’ll use the money to expand with locations on the North Side, Printer’s Row and near the South Loop.
Buoyed by that, Friedlander teased upcoming projects outside of the Aloha Poke scope. His hospitality group, Pineapples and Dreams, should have a few announcements on "some new fun projects" by the middle of next year.
Friedlander is excited about building a company by sharing his experiences with industry kindreds. Aloha Poke’s ownership also includes The Angry Crab’s Alvin Kang and Vinh Nguyen. "I’ve been able to attract like-minded industry folks that are my age that are really ready for the next level," he said.