Maybe you didn’t know that behind Poke House lies a trip to California. The West Coast and its healthy and dynamic lifestyle have inspired this hybrid model that mixes healthy food, a strong employment of digital technologies and an eye for the wellbeing of consumers. Indeed it is: because going to a Poke House is like taking a break on the beach – informal and colorful environment, with a long list of healthy options.
We asked Vittoria Zanetti and Matteo Pichi, Founders of Poke House, to tell us their story. Poke House is part of the community inside Talent Garden Isola, our campus dedicated to Foodtech.
How was the concept of Poke House born and what is it exactly?
Vittoria: “Poke House has an ambitious vision: to contribute in sharing a healthy and dynamic lifestyle, typical of the Californian West Coast. As a matter of fact, every House is much more than a simple restaurant: it is a place where you can enjoy tasty and healthy dishes, but also where to relax in a casual environment that easily let you escape from the fast-paced metropolitan lifestyle and makes you feel good. Behind Poke House there’s me, Vittoria, and the company CEO Matteo, complementary in both backgrounds and personalities – we joke about how we are “the heart” and “the mind” of the project. During my post-degree trip the States, I had the chance to live for a while in Los Angeles. There I fell in love with the positive and informal vibes, as well as the poke houses around the beach across the Santa Monica Pier: so many of them, all sharing an incredible variety of tastes and combinations. My strong desire to bring the same format to Milan became a reality thanks to the partnership with Matteo, who was already a consolidated entrepreneur in the world of food delivery, with a big success story behind.
The first Poke House was opened in Isola (Milan) in October 2018 and we have not stopped ever since, opening 10 more stores in Milan and Turin. Our culinary offer is based on poke bowls that are revisited with a Californian touch: a super colorful mix of proteins, seasonal fruit and veggies, enriched with sauces that are strictly prepared “in-house”. You can either make your own bowl or choose from our recipes/signatures.”
What does innovation mean to you?
Matteo: “Innovation is definitely part of our DNA. Poke House is not a restaurant in the traditional meaning of the word, but rather a proper food company. Aiming at developing the fast-casual format, our goal is to innovate the world of food services with an hybrid model, based on a mix of retail and digital, and structurally incline to the experimentation of new forms of catering such as food delivery and dark kitchens, on which we have invested a lot recently. We are almost more of a foodtech, if you consider the organic employment of technology in support of the business – for instance, let’s look at our strategic way of looking at delivery or our recent launch of the loyalty program via our clients’ mobile wallets. Innovation is our modus operandi, and we will continue testing new business lines while at the same time scaling our core business.”
The Covid emergency has shaken our lives and the entire economy. What impact did it have on your sector and what do you think the future looks like?
Matteo: “Covid has definitely altered the balance of the restaurants sector, where the most part of entrepreneurs is not so familiar with business tools and solutions that in this moment of uncertainty have represented an opportunity for us. Just think of how many restaurants have never used a delivery app before Covid-19, or they haven’t used it strategically. Having a resilient business model that is as lean as possible is definitely going to be crucial in the next future and, in this sense, technology has a primary role. For instance, we were among the first ones to restart with our take away offer by granting social distancing and optimizing flows thanks to a click & collect integrated system. Lastly, we believe that in this period people will always prefer to stay outside – and this is why we recently decided to open two open air kiosks in Parco Sempione and Parco Ravizza.”
Why did you choose Talent Garden and what do you like the most of our network?
Vittoria: “With Talent Garden we share the fact that we are a young but extremely ambitious reality; we love the idea of contributing in some way to the wellbeing of society – on one hand with healthy but tasty food, on the other with education – as well as the concept of never being scared of dreaming too big, making innovation a foundational pillar of out company culture. At the moment we are in Talent Garden Isola, the campus inside the Palazzo della Regione in Milan, and we can’t wait to take part in the events dedicated to the community… who knows, some unexpected opportunities might come up any time!”