During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kona Poké has been rethinking its expansion plans and growth strategy. Next month it will open its first of 20 ghost kitchen locations -- inside Reef Kitchen's facility in Miami.
The ghost kitchen concept “makes sense and is simpler than running a brick-and-mortar restaurant. It gives us the ability to grow rapidly without the huge amount of cash needed to open brick-and-mortar stores,” says Kona Poké Co-Owner Ernie Falco.
Kona Poke opened its first location in 2019 and was planning to open up to seven corporate stores before the COVID-19 pandemic. “Now we are rethinking our growth strategy,” said Falco. “We are considering franchising.”
Kona Poké’s Hawaiian-style poké bowls are made with fresh sushi-grade fish, house sauces and more than 40 toppings. The fast casual concept operates two locations that are about 1200-1300 square feet and have indoor seating for 26 and patio seating for 20. Even before COVID-19 pandemic, about half of Kona Poké’s orders were dine-in. “The high-level trend was people were on the go and wanted something healthy to eat,” he said.
Now with on-premise dining on hold, Kona Poké stores in Lake Mary and Sanford, Fla., recently added curbside pickup, in-house delivery and delivery through third-party delivery services. Recently it revealed its no-contact food prep guarantee that includes employee health screenings.
Poke bowls travel well and with the bright colors of the fresh ingredients, they lend themselves to social sharing, especially on Instagram. “Everything is social media-driven these days,” he adds.