Poké Fresh brings Hawaiian cuisine to Akron

March 12, 2018

Poké Fresh brings Hawaiian cuisine to Akron

AKRON, Ohio – Poké Fresh, an independent fast-casual restaurant that offers “Hawaiian-born-Ohio-raised” cuisine, is officially open at 46 N. Hawkins, Suite 215 in Akron.

The word poké, pronounced “PO-kay,” means to “slice” or “cut” in Hawaiian. The fare that inspired Poke Fresh has been served on the island since the 1970s.

While the restaurant’s grand opening is this week, owner Jonathan Gotschall quietly opened the space in January. The extended soft opening gave him time to fine tune his seafood orders, which are delivered daily from suppliers.

The inspiration for the restaurant concept came from Gotschall’s visit to a similar restaurant in Washington, D.C. when he was visiting his sister last year. Gotschall, who previously owned Caroline’s Cupcakes, was waiting for something to pique his interest.

“I was waiting for something to really jump off the page at me, something I really liked and enjoyed myself,” Gotschall said.

“When I went into the poke shop, I just absolutely loved it. Sushi is one of my favorite foods, and this is a take on that. It’s fast, it’s casual, it’s healthy and fresh—everything a lunch should be,” he said.

When he returned to Ohio, Gotschall discovered there wasn’t a single poke restaurant in the state. There are now several, including two in Cleveland alone, Corner 11 Bowl & Wrap and 2nd and High Poke House + Bar.

“I saw a space in the market where we needed it and decided to take a chance and here we are,” he said.

The restaurant’s menu items include customizable, bowl-style options that include bases such as brown rice, white jasmine rice, or Ohio-grown organic greens topped with proteins such as tuna, salmon, shrimp, chicken and tofu.

Favorite toppings include green onions, white onions, edamame and cucumber, and more adventurous options such as seaweed salad and pickled ginger. Bowls can be finished with sauces made from scratch and crunchy bits like spicy habanero crystals or toasted sesame seeds. Menu options include vegan, gluten-free and low carb selections.

“People have been eating up seaweed salad, which is great. And same with the masago (fish eggs),” Gotschall said.

The response so far has been incredible, according to Gotschall.

“The biggest compliment, when we get them, is people who have lived in Hawaii or Southern California say ‘I’m so happy that you are here. I’ve been eating poke all my life and finally at long last can get it in Ohio,’” he said.

Approximately 11 people are employed at the restaurant, which occupies just under 1,500 square feet.

Poké Fresh is open 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Orders can be placed in advance by calling 330-860-7870.

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