Pokeworks, a leading fast-casual brand, has announced the signing of a master franchise agreement in Canada for 50 units, and a deal to open a location in Taipei, Taiwan. Canada and Taiwan mark the second and third countries the brand has expanded to, after opening its first international locations in Mexico.
“Our vision is to be the leading premium fast-casual Poke brand in the world,” said Steve Heeley, CEO of Pokeworks.
“Our partnerships in Mexico, Canada, and Taiwan are clear steps in realizing our vision. We have substantial interest from partners for international expansion which is thrilling, but we’re very selective in choosing whom to partner with.
“Both Eat Up Canada and Next Level Dining are experienced, proven operators with deep knowledge of their markets. The Taiwan dining scene values high-quality raw fish, making our product the perfect fit to successfully introduce poke there.
“Additionally, Pokeworks’ current presence south of the U.S. has done well since our first Mexico opening in 2019, and we were ready to expand to Canada, offering vast potential for rapid development.”
The brand has signed the master franchise deal in Canada with Eat Up Canada Inc., led by co-founders George Heos and Alex Gerzon. Heos has over 25 years of experience in the restaurant industry across Canada and Gerzon has been working with restaurant brands in Canada for over 30 years. Their current plans are to open Pokework’s first Canadian location in the Toronto area before 2023. They want to build the 50 locations over the next 10 years.
The Taiwan deal is being led by Next Level Dining, a Taiwanese-based company that sees a lot of potential in the brand.
“Our reputation as ‘the leading fast-casual poke brand’ comes with high expectations that we aim to meet and exceed,” said Heeley.
“We firmly believe that part of the role of being an industry leader is to expand globally. That expansion planning involves choosing operators who share our vision and commitment to quality poke, and groups like Next Level Dining and Eat Up Canada are the perfect fit to help us build the brand’s presence around the world while we still charge forward in the U.S.”