The Aloha Poke Co. franchise family has grown larger every year, so we want to take some time to celebrate the people who have helped us expand our presence. You’ve heard why our franchisees love our opportunity, but now it’s time to get to know who some of those people are, and learn all about their unique Aloha experience. Today let’s get to know more about Tom Wang, an Aloha operator based out of Wisconsin.
With plenty of experience in the restaurant industry, Tom has certainly had an easy transition into the Aloha Poke franchise. His family moved to the U.S. from Taiwan in the 1960s and opened a couple of Chinese restaurants that they owned until 2014. Tom and his family realized that running a full-service restaurant was not only difficult to keep up with, but not nearly rewarding enough. But the restaurant industry has always been in Tom’s blood, so he wanted to find a way to stay involved without breaking the bank. When Tom heard about Aloha Poke, the rest was history.
“I never knew about poke three years ago; it just was never on my radar in Milwaukee,” said Tom. “So I went to a location and bought a bunch of different bowls with different combinations and sauces. As soon as I tasted a crunch bowl, I knew this is the stuff that’s going to sell.”
Today, Tom oversees two Aloha Poke Co. franchise locations and has already signed on to soon open a third. And it won’t stop there — Tom said that he plans on opening ten territories with no problem at all! But for now, his second location in Wauwatosa, WI opened for business a few weeks ago. Tom said that once you get one under your belt, the rest comes easy.
“It started off slower because you just gotta get the word out, because it’s a new business,” remembered Tom. “But now, we’re seeing increases in sales the past two weeks, and we’re heading in the right direction. I think it’s going to be a really good location, from the square footage, to what we pay in rent. We have that all down to a science.”
In the full-service restaurant industry, Tom always struggled with some of the complexities, such as hiring skilled labor and build-out costs. With Aloha Poke, he realized how easy it was to hire and train employees and not worry about spending thousands of dollars on unused space.
“To me, it was the simplicity of the process and the fresh ingredients,” said Tom. “I looked at it and realized from what I had before, to what I see now, this was a no-brainer for me to operate. And even if you don’t have that background, you can get trained.”
As for the future, Tom believes that nothing is slowing down anytime soon. He thinks that healthy, beautifully-prepared sushi bowls are something that his customers will keep coming back for every year. Tom is hooked himself, and sees no limits to this industry.
“In the early ’80s they called the California Roll a trend, and now you see it in every grocery store and everyone knows what it is,” said Tom. “People may say poke is a trend, but I think of it more as part of a lifestyle.”
The numbers back him up. The poke foods market is poised to grow by USD 1.94 billion during 2019-2023, progressing at a CAGR of 23% during the forecast period. Even during an economic downturn, Tom noted that his new Aloha Poke location is weathering the storm.
“As time went on, we were more protected than anyone because our food is based on carryout and delivery,” said Tom. “This format really covered us and helped us come out ahead in the end. That’s why now more than ever it’s important to account for the square footage and the rent that you’re paying.”
No matter what, Tom is riding with the Aloha Poke franchise brand and can’t wait to get the ball rolling on his future locations. It’s passionate operators like him who have helped us succeed as a brand. Tom realizes that you have to be involved in order to succeed, and has some wisdom to pass on to individuals who might be thinking about investing themselves.
“The support that you’ll get from Aloha is awesome. I’m always doing things to help streamline on my own, but when it comes to those big decisions, that’s where it’s key to have that Aloha team that can give you their advice too.”
We’re incredibly excited to watch Tom’s growth as the years progress, and look forward to bringing on more owners who share his passion for the Aloha Poke Co. franchise brand!
Are you interested in opening a poke franchise? Do you want to learn more about our opportunities? Get in touch with a member of our team for more information!