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Young Ones to Watch: Chris Birkinshaw, CEO of Aloha Poke

The high-quality poke bowl CEO is grateful for his franchisees, whose intelligence, passion and drive for success helped the brand thrive during the pandemic.

By Lauren Garcia1851 Editor
Updated 9:09AM 10/05/21

Chris Birkinshaw has been working with fast-casual food and beverage brands like Starbucks and Potbelly Sandwich Shop for more than 20 years. For the past four years, he’s served as CEO of Aloha Poke Co., a brand that offers high-quality poke bowls in 18 locations across the U.S. 

Aloha Poke has been franchising since 2019, and Birkinshaw said he’s excited about the franchisees they’ve brought on thus far. 

“I really love the entrepreneurial mindset of the super-smart people that you get to bring on as franchisees and the value they can add to the system,” he said. “One of our biggest franchisees has a background that includes ambassadorship of the United Nations. Someone who’s at that level of intelligence, enterprise and experience is really cool to work with and adds so much value to our systems.”

Birkinshaw touted Aloha Poke Co.’s franchisees’ talent and drive, especially while running a business during a pandemic. 

“At Aloha, we’ve been able to navigate within a sweet spot, where we've utilized a smaller footprint than a traditional fast-casual restaurant since day one,” he said. “Most of our orders are coming in digitally, and prior to COVID, we really just leaned in on the digital trends. We've been focused on keeping the menu nimble and purposeful, and so we're able really to execute through COVID without many of the same disruptions that a lot of our peers in the fast-casual space have felt.”

Birkinshaw said he feels lucky to have franchisees who are on his side of the table, not just when everything's great, but also when there are real challenges at hand.

Watch the full interview with Birkinshaw above, or click here to watch it on YouTube.