Franchise Development Leader: Kevin Hsu
Franchise Development Leader: Kevin Hsu

The co-founder of Pokéworks’ says the brand was designed for growth.

Fast-casual franchise Pokéworks opened its first location just three years ago in Midtown Manhattan, and already the brand has more than 115 franchise locations in development, more than 100 of which are expected to open within the next 18 months.

Poké, a quickly prepared and versatile Japanese dish that has recently become a favorite among foodies and health-conscious eaters, is fast becoming one of the more popular concepts in foodservice, and Pokéworks is well positioned as the leading brand in the segment.

As Pokéworks continues to advance its multi-market expansion efforts, we talked to co-founder Kevin Hsu to learn what the franchising-newcomer thinks about the industry. Here’s what he had to say.

When did Pokéworks decide to franchise?

When we first created the concept of Pokéworks, we had the intention of scaling the brand to multiple locations across the U.S. With the success of the first store in Midtown in 2015, we immediately started setting up the franchise support system and brought on our first franchisee in Boston. Since then, we’ve continued to grow through both corporate and franchise stores. We now currently have 21 stores and more than 120 locations planned through 2020.

What do you love about franchising?

We love our franchisees and partners. We love being able to work with like-minded entrepreneurs who also believe in the Pokéworks brand. We support them in every step of their progress, from onboarding to grand opening and onwards, so that we can help them develop in their respective markets.

Is there anything you wish you could change about the industry?

Not really. We are mostly focused on improving our own system. We've been able to connect with strong franchisee operators, and we’ve incorporated the latest technologies to streamline our marketing and operations support. As we scale, we'll continue to look for other innovative ways to better ourselves.  

What’s the biggest change you’ve noticed in franchising since you started?

The biggest change we've seen has really been the type of restaurants that are out there franchising. Poké is one of the leading growth food categories, and it has continued to gain more adoption in each market across the U.S. and even internationally.  

What makes a great franchisee?

The best franchisees believe in the brand and are also good operators in terms of cost control, efficiencies and market perspective.

What’s the number-one thing that sells franchises?

First and foremost, the brand needs to be strong and recognizable. When a franchisee enters a new market, the brand carries through and can make a bold statement. Alongside that is the alignment in direction and support structure that we provide to all our franchisees