In January, SMU student entrepreneurs and sophomores Brandon Cohanim and Francois Reihani will open a new Dallas restaurant, Pōk the Raw Bar, bringing a new concept in healthy dining to Dallas. But, with the support of SMU’s Engaged Learning program, they have other plans to share their resources. Cohanim won a $1,000 grant in the Engaged Learning Big iDeas pitch contest to develop his plan to share food from the restaurant with Dallas’ homeless shelters. Reihani won a $1,000 Big iDeas grant to create a program to help homeless individuals find jobs. The following is from the Nov. 9, 2016, edition of CultureMap Dallas.
November 18, 2016
By Teresa Gubbins
So far, we've seen a little poke here and a little poke there, but Dallas is on the brink of a major poke phase, ushered in by the debut of Pōk the Raw Bar, opening in West Village in January 2017.
Poke is a raw fish salad from Hawaii that's like a rustic version of sashimi. It's served in a bowl; as we know, bowls are hot right now. Poke has been a big trend in California and is spreading to other cities such as New York and Miami.
The restaurant, which takes over the space vacated in 2014 by Union Bear, will offer not only poke, but also a raw bar and cutting-edge matcha drinks.
Its founders are Brandon Cohanim and Francois Reihani, two young entrepreneurs who've partnered with Jimmy Park, a name-brand chef whose experience includes a Michelin-starred restaurant, and seven years working for Nobu in Aspen, San Diego, and Dallas. Park was also born and raised in Hawaii, birthplace of poke.
Cohanim and Reihani, who attend Southern Methodist University, moved to Dallas from California, where they saw the poke trend first surface.
"We're both entrepreneurial, and we liked the idea of bringing a good, healthy-food option to Dallas," Cohanim says. "We both have a passion for the hospitality industry, for restaurants, hotels, nightlife, and we saw that the poke trend hadn't yet hit Dallas."
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