Leading Fast-Casual Poke Chain Welcomes COO, CMO and CDO, Paving the Path to Growth in 2021
Irvine, CA (RestaurantNews.com) Pokeworks, the nation’s largest and fastest-growing poke franchise, has announced its high-level executive additions by welcoming Michael Walters as the new Chief Operating Officer, Steve Heeley as the New Chief Marketing Officer and Larry Sidoti as the new Chief Development Officer as the brand plans to expand its footprint in the post-pandemic, quick-service restaurant landscape.
Serving as the brand’s interim COO since September of 2020, Michael Walters has brought unmatched value and experience to the Pokeworks’ team. He strengthened the structure of the organization by implementing procedures that ensure guests always receive an exceptional experience at Pokeworks restaurants. Walters also invested in the brand by bringing in new talent that will help streamline the franchise network to help them become even better operators. Especially crucial amid the global pandemic, Walters helped strengthen communications between Pokeworks’ corporate departments and franchisees to create a more integrated and cohesive brand. Now, as the permanent COO, Walters will continue to use the momentum he established and guide Pokeworks to new and exciting heights in the fast casual franchise industry.
Steve Heeley joins the Pokeworks team with an extensive background in brand management, menu creation and health-centered restaurant development. Prior to joining the Pokeworks team as CMO, Heeley held the role of CEO at Veggie Grill, where he spearheaded the growth of the plant-based, fast-casual concept through rebranding, new menu development and digital transformation. His roster of past executive roles held in the industry include Earl of Sandwich, Au Bon Pain, The Coffee Bean Tea Leaf and Beja Fresh. As the CMO of Pokeworks, Heeley will oversee the marketing department while spearheading efforts surrounding revenue strategy, including brand and digital strategy, product development and customer relationship management.
Larry Sidoti is welcomed by the poke concept as the new Chief Development Officer, where he will oversee the development team and lead the brand’s real estate and site selection strategy, construction management and franchise recruitment. Before taking on this role with Pokeworks, Sidoti was the CDO for Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh, where he helped bring nearly 50 new locations to the franchise system. Larry also held executive positions at Paris Baguette, Ruby’s Diner, Yogurtland, Ms. Fields, and Juice it Up.
“Pokeworks began with nine founders who shared a vision to create a concept that delivers fresh, healthy and delicious poke to all, and have grown from one location in Manhattan to over sixty locations worldwide in just five years,” said Michael Chen, President and Co-Founder of Pokeworks. “We strive to continue to innovate, grow and improve our operations, and that is why we are thrilled to welcome Michael, Steve and Larry to our team to help carry our vision while also giving us a new point of view.”
Founded in 2015, Pokeworks is building on momentum largely fueled by its millennial relevance and deep-rooted commitment to sustainability efforts and has grown to 60 locations open across the United States. Pokeworks is actively seeking multi-unit franchise partners to join its team of highly ambitious and hardworking entrepreneurs. The average investment for a Pokeworks is $260,000 to $660,000. For more information about the Pokeworks franchise opportunity, please visit www.pokeworks.com/franchise.
Founded in 2015, Pokeworks is one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing poke brands in North America with 60 locations open and more than 130 under development. Offering guests an authentic taste of the islands, Pokeworks provides a fresh take on Hawaiian-inspired poke burritos, bowls and salads derived from the highest quality ingredients. The brand’s unique menu allows for complete customization to cater to almost anyone, including those maintaining gluten-free, nut-free, vegetarian, vegan as well as cooked or raw protein diets. For more information about Pokeworks, visit www.pokeworks.com.