The East Side will soon have a new fast-casual restaurant concept. This time, it comes in the form of a fast-casual poke concept that’s been sweeping the nation.
FreshFin Poke, named for the famous Hawaiian dish poke (pronounced poh-kay) comprised of sliced, raw fish combined with various add-ins, could open at 1806 E. North Ave., next door to Insomnia Cookies, as soon as November.
The menu for the 25-seat restaurant is currently in development, but will include a variety of signature poke bowls, as well as fully customizable bowl options including white or green tea rice, ramen cucumber slaw or mixed greens, along with proteins like Ahi tuna, salmon, shrimp, tofu or vegetables and sauces including shoyu, garlic ponzu, unagi, yum yum, spicy ginger, Sriracha aioli and wasabi-soy. A selection of high-end iced and hot teas are also on the docket.
Nate Arkush and James Thomas are the business partners behind FreshFin. Originally from Michigan, Arkush graduated with a culinary degree from Austin Community College and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management, and an MBA. His experience includes managing Shula’s Steakhouse, and recent work with the Starwood Hotels and Resorts in Chicago.
Arkush, who moved to Milwaukee with his wife just over a year ago, will act as both the Milwaukee operator of and chef at the East Side restaurant.
"We’ve been loving the city and think it’s a great place to live and work," notes Arkush. "And we’re especially excited to introduce the city to a concept that’s trending on the West Coast and across the country."
Arkush says he and Thomas, who is based in California, toured more than 10 poke concepts across the West Coast, working to nail down the concept they’d launch in the Cream City.
"As we traveled, we noted the popularity of the concept which is affordable, quick, healthy and highly customizable," he says. "There were lines out the door at nearly all of the places."
Arkush says their aim is to create a fun fast-casual atmosphere that appeals to a variety of clientele, including nearby college students and neighborhood residents.
Arkush says the restaurant plans to serve both lunch and dinner with tentative hours from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and potentially later on weekends.
Watch OnMilwaukee for additional details as they develop.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.