HYDE PARK — Aloha Poke Co. is preparing for a major expansion around the city and beyond in its second year and the next new location will be Hyde Park in June.
Managing Partner Zach Friedlander said Tuesday that the Hyde Park location for the restaurant serving raw fish and veggie bowls will open in June at 5221 S. Harper Court, the first of five locations planned for Chicago this year.
“We looked at it like a Twister board, we put our left leg on Evanston and our right leg on Hyde Park,” Friedlander said of his plan to reach across the city with the expansion.
He said Hyde Park had what he’s looking for when planning out new locations: a nearby college and affluent neighbors.
Lincoln Park also met that criteria, with a new location planned for 818 W. Fullerton Ave. also in June.
A location in the Shops at North Bridge, 520 N. Michigan Ave., is also expected this summer. Aloha Poke Co. locations are also planned near Loyola University and the first suburban location in Naperville.
Friedlander said he’s also planning the first locations out of Illinois this year and has a goal to open 14 new locations this year.
“In my eyes, I’m hoping to revolutionize the way people look at fast food,” Friedlander said.
It’s a fast expansion for the restaurant, which offers a variation on a Hawaiian dish that includes raw tuna or salmon marinated in sesame and soy sauce and topped with vegetables and a variety of sauces, and that opened its first location at the West Loop French Market, 131 N. Clinton St., in March 2016.
Friedlander said he thinks the food appeals to people who want something as healthy as sushi, but want it prepared fresh and customized to their tastes.
It’s a model that has worked for restaurants like Chipotle and Roti Mediterranean.
Friedlander said he’s hoping the Hawaiian flavors will lure Barack Obama into the Hyde Park location.
“I thought it would be great if our former president wanted to stop by and taste his Hawaiian roots,” Friedlander said.
He said he is still working out the hours and opening date for the Hyde Park location, but expects it will open in June and will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.