2nd Pokébar Hawaiian Kitchen opens in Hato Rey
The owners of the Pokébar Hawaiian Kitchen are marking the success of their small chain that got its start in 2019 in the Condado sector of San Juan, with the recent opening of a second restaurant in Hato Rey.
This modern concept arose from an idea by Emmanuel Márquez and his brother Cristian Marquez. They both liked sushi, and while taking a trip to New York, they saw the concept and were interested, so they decided to look into it. They opened their first Pokébar Hawaiian Kitchen restaurant in Miami.
“We did very well in Miami and from there the opportunity arose here in Puerto Rico, where I’m from,” Emmanuel Márquez said.
After researching whether this concept could be accepted by the Puerto Rican market, the brothers decided to open in Condado in August 2019.
“I think we were the first to break the ice, with all this Poke stuff,” Emmanuel Márquez said.
The pandemic has not been a negative for Pokébar Hawaiian Kitchen, as it brought new customers, he said.
“Since the governor announced the lockdown, we have been open. It affected a bit because we could not have all our employees here in the restaurant, but I never had to lay off employees,” Emmanuel Márquez said.
The plan to open another Pokébar Hawaiian Kitchen location in Puerto Rico existed before the pandemic began.
“We were in some sense prepared for that location, then the pandemic happened, and we were already opening the second store,” Emmanuel Márquez said.
“We believe you can never stop and that you have to follow your plans,” Emmanuel Márquez added.
His partner, Arielys Santana, has been a support and help to both Pokébar Hawaiian Kitchen businesses in Puerto Rico, he said.
“We have many philosophies, new opportunities always arise from each situation and that’s why during the pandemic, instead of holding back, what we did was duplicate and reinforce all of the work we were doing to get our second location,” Santana added.
With the new opening of the second Pokébar Hawaiian Kitchen, five jobs have been created in Hato Rey.
“Thanks to the opening in Hato Rey we have much more movement in Condado,” Santana said.
Pokébar Hawaiian Kitchen currently has 12 employees in Condado, who rotate between both shops.
Pokébar Hawaiian Kitchen has been in business for about a year and half and the owners have plans to open more stores.
“Our plans are to continue expanding in the [San Juan] metropolitan area and to reach other regions of Puerto Rico,” Santana said.
Made-to-order Poké bowls
When the customer arrives at Pokébar Hawaiian Kitchen, be it in Miami, Condado or now in Hato Rey, they can create their own Poke bowl, choosing the protein of their liking and the amount.
“Pokébar offers poke bowls, sushi burritos, bao buns and mochi ice-cream,” the entrepreneur said.
Even though some of the food is being served raw, Pokébar Hawaiian Kitchen maintains strict hygiene when it comes to the work environment and area, Santana said.
“We maintain an extremely careful cleaning process and we bring in our fish fresh every two days,” Santana said.
Márquez and Santana have hopes for the new Hato Rey location, they said.
“Our expectations are to continue creating and reinforcing our brand, which is Pokébar Hawaiian Kitchen, to provide quality service to all of Puerto Rico, which is our goal.” Santana said
“That is why we are locating ourselves in very strategic areas to be able to take our brand, which we have worked on and reinforced, to take it to another level,” Santana added.