Rock star-powered LemonShark poké has set its sights on New Orleans, with the first of two locations landing on Magazine State around mid-June.
The California-based poké chain from Wallflowers’ founding guitarist Tobi Miller and ex-race car driver Richard Gottlieb will move into the Magazine Commons area, sharing a patio with CC’s Coffee and Another Broken Egg Cafe. (It’s taking over the GNC spot at 2901 Magazine Street.)
The news comes hot on the heels of the news that NYC-based Pokéworks, which LemonShark’s CEO and president Miller considers a major competitor on the national level, will open in Metairie’s Lakeside Shopping Center.
Though most poke spots with Chipotle-style assembly line ordering and disposable dishes follow the “fast casual” mandate of lightening-fast dining, Miller told Eater New Orleans that LemonShark puts “more into the dining experience than others. It’s not about rushing people in and out.”
The menu reflects this idea: The miso soup is bottomless and there’s a good selection of both hot and cold sake, as well as beer.
In addition to the expected signature bowls, build-your-own bowls, and “pokérritos” with various raw and cooked seafood and other toppings, LemonShark’s menu also includes egg rolls, tempura shrimp, spam musubi (a popular Hawaiian snack of grilled Spam on top of a block of rice and wrapped in nori seaweed), and red bean ice cream. Base offerings for poké bowls and burritos are more diverse than others: sushi rice, brown rice, Forbidden rice, bamboo rice, and crispy wontons.
With Shake Shack’s New York design team behind the interiors, the stores feel “more Japanese than Hawaiian” with “a nice, sophisticated interior, booths with cushioned seating, nice lighting. Hopefully, it’s a place to hang out,” Miller said.
LemonShark, founded in 2016, only started franchising last March. Since then it’s sold 180 territories throughout the United States with 20 on the books to open within the next 12 months. There are only five locations right now, Miller told Eater New Orleans.
“There are more poke chains that have more stores than us, but I think we’re going to leapfrog everybody in 12 months,” Miller said.
The restaurant’s name comes from a shark with discerning tastes. Rather than feeding randomly and opportunistically, lemon sharks prefer certain species and size of fish, especially when the species is more abundant and available. It’s so picky, in fact, that other fish swim by the lemon shark for safety.
“We’re more of a premium concept,” Miller said.
The New Orleans franchisees, Spencer Rossie and Edward Amar, haven’t decided on the location of the second LemonShark yet.
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- LemonShark Poké [official website]
- NYC-Based Pokéworks Will Open in Metairie With Poke Burritos and More [ENOLA]
- All New Orleans Coming Attractions Coverage [ENOLA]
- All New Orleans Restaurant Opening Coverage [ENOLA]