Santa Monica, Calif. — A rapidly growing international fast-casual concept, Poke House, has invested in Sweetfin, a leader of the poke bowl and plant-based bowl category in the United States. The partnership plans to bring 80 additional openings to Europe and the U.S. in 2022.
With its investment in Sweetfin, Poke House becomes the largest investor of the chef-driven, California-inspired poke concept. The European foodtech company already boasts more than 75 restaurants in Italy, France, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom. The partnership brings the group’s location total to 90.
Poke House, which finished 2021 with more than $50 million in annual revenues, will support the expansion of Sweetfin in the United States. The popular brand plans to open a significant amount of new, corporate-owned restaurants over the next 3 years throughout Arizona, Texas and other parts of the U.S. Sweetfin currently operates 14 locations in Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange County.
“Sweetfin is the pioneer in the global poke and plant-based bowl category, and we’re proud to team up with Europe’s leaders of the same segment,” says Seth Cohen, president and co-founder of Sweetfin. “Poke House’s international presence is very strong, and we have been impressed with the growth of their brand and team, as well as the technological investments that they’ve made in their business. Through this strategic partnership, we have a goal of tripling our unit count and entering new territories throughout the Southwest and other markets in the U.S.”
Cohen continues: “With our partnership with Poke House, we are securing access to their cutting-edge tech solutions, which will be a tremendous boost to our operations and customer acquisition strategies. The modern consumer is attracted to brands that serve healthful, nutrient-rich, fresh foods with an omnichannel presence that includes digital web ordering, app ordering, kiosk ordering and an integrated loyalty program — all [of] which Sweetfin has invested in heavily. We can’t wait to introduce Sweetfin’s fresh, scratch-made culinary experience to more of the country with the help of Poke House and to continue our mission to fuel life through freshness.”
“We are very excited about partnering with the Poke House team as we share a common vison, similar culture and aspiration for U.S. expansion,” says Alan Nathan, CEO and co-founder of Sweetfin. “This partnership allows us to build infrastructure to fuel our expansion outside of California by adding experienced industry leadership to our Sweetfam. Their creative talent and leadership will help augment our team.”
Along with both brands’ rapid expansion efforts, Sweetfin and Poke House will share digital capabilities — one of the most important strategic assets of Poke House’s business model — and focus on delivery to further drive growth. Over the past year, Sweetfin’s loyalty subscriber base has increased by 540%, and over 80% of Sweetfin’s orders are placed through digital channels. Both numbers are expected to surge as Sweetfin gains access to Poke House’s elevated technology.
“We are thrilled to enter the American market in partnership with an iconic and beloved brand that has made California-inspired poke a true institution,” says Matteo Pichi, co-founder and CEO of Poke House. “We’re proud and enthusiastic to have arrived, through this investment, to enter the most important food retail and delivery market in the Western world. Our alliance with Sweetfin represents a new milestone in a journey that has seen us grow at exponential speed. In just 3 years, we’ve gone from 0 EUR in revenues to over 45 million EUR, we’ve opened more than 70 locations and we’ve seen our team grow to over 800 people.”
Poke House’s success is based on a hybrid model, halfway between retail and digital, where the technological component plays a fundamental role. Poke House developed an omnichannel system in-house (click & collect, app and payment systems) and a proprietary CRM software with a loyalty program that counts thousands of users. Moreover, Poke House takes a deep approach to digital orders by analyzing data from third-party delivery platforms to understand how variables such as ratings, preparation time and average order duration impact its store business volumes.
Sweetfin was one of the first standalone poke concepts outside of Hawaii. Founded in 2015, the brand currently owns and operates 14 locations across Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego, with several more in the pipeline. For more information, visit www.sweetfin.com.