PokéOno to open first Baltimore location this fall

PokéOno, a Philadelphia-based fast-casual restaurant specializing in the Hawaiian dish Poke, is opening a location in Baltimore this fall.

The 900-square-foot restaurant, with seven employees, will be located on East Fort Avenue at the Southside Marketplace.

Bowls will start at $8.95 for a regular bowl. A large bowl will cost $11.95. Proteins consist of ahi tuna, salmon, shrimp, octopus and tofu.

Expect the restaurant to mirror the Philadelphia location. That means a “surfer chic” aesthetic with lots of wood tones and a tropical feel.

“There will be a lot of greenery,” said owner Andrew Danieli. “There will also be plenty of surf art.”

A projector will stream classic and contemporary surfer movies at all times in the restaurant, he added.

Danieli, a New Jersey native, was first introduced to Poke, a dish consisting of cubed sushi grade tuna, marinated and served over rice, when he was surfing in Hawaii in 2013.

Danieli started selling the dish at local street fairs and farmer’s markets in New York City.

“It didn’t exist on the East Coast in 2015,” he said.

When he looked for a brick-and-mortar presence, he decided to launch his restaurant in Philadelphia.

“With rent being astronomical in Manhattan, I wanted to be in a major city,” he said. “Philadelphia was the closest big city to Manhattan that I could find. I thought it would be a great entry point. It’s more of my home city anyway.”

With Baltimore’s growing business offerings — particularly in the Federal Hill and Locust Point area, Danieli and partner Josh Kachura decided that Baltimore would be the ideal spot for a second location.

“Knowing the area and knowing our target market — which skew a bit younger — the Federal Hill and Locust Point area is great,” Kachura said.

As for the food, Danieli and Kachura— the 33-year-olds became friends while surfing — recommend the spicy tuna bowl.

“It’s definitely a house favorite,” Danieli said. “It’s something that they can relate to because of the spicy tuna roll. That is an easy way into Poke.”

Kachura, who joined the company in 2017 as a partner to expand into the D.C. and Maryland markets, said the flavors of Poke will be “familiar” and also “unique. You get a mouth full of great flavors. It’s easy on the wallet. And it fills your belly up.”

john-john.williams@baltsun.com

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