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Construction project update: helping Poke House build fifty new restaurants across the UK

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

a crowd of customers queue up outside the newly fitted out Poke House restaurant at London Portobello Road. In the foreground, a man and a woman are roller skating whilst wearing Poke House T shirts

You might remember us telling you recently that we have been appointed by Poke House to deliver their UK construction programme. Here is a more in-depth look at exactly how we are helping them to realise their ambition and establish their vibrant restaurant brand across the country.

One of the fastest growing restaurant brands.

Poke House is an Italian poke chain who have enjoyed incredible success across Europe. Since their beginnings in Milan in November 2018 they have opened 30 restaurants across Italy, Portugal and Spain and is one of the fastest growing foodtech scale-ups in Europe.

Poke House entered the UK market through their acquisition of the Ahi Poke brand in 2021 and immediately got to work on their construction programme. In total, their ambition is to deliver fifty restaurant projects across the UK, with a focus on London and the South of England.

You can easily spot a Poke House because of their super cool and distinctive California-inspired pastel decor.

customers enjoy the food and get a spray tan at the new Poke House London Spitalfields restaurant

Building these restaurants should be easy!

The Poke House building programme fell prey to the arch enemy of all construction projects: project chaos. They found that they weren’t getting a coordinated delivery and had no control of costs. Consequently, they weren’t quite getting the restaurants that they wanted.

This led to the Poke House team feeling frustrated that they weren’t going in the right direction and they were worried that they weren’t always making the best choices to carry their programme forward. You would think that, with such a distinctive brand, and such a clear vision of what they wanted to achieve, it would be easy to deliver this construction programme. Actually it proved more difficult than they expected.

Recommendation by the main contractor.

Poke House’s main contractor, Thompsons, knew us from working with us on the Tim Hortons restaurant delivery programme. They recommended us to Poke House because they knew that we could offer them the right level of support to get their construction projects back on track.

We know from past experience that a poorly-led and under-resourced team will not succeed in getting a restaurant fit out programme delivered on time and on budget. We understood their problems and concerns and were keen to help them regain control of their programme and their finances.

the interior of Poke House’s London Canary Wharf restaurant has had a fit out in their distinctive pastel decor.

Just last year, we helped Tim Hortons UK deliver fifteen construction projects across the UK and Northern Ireland. This recent experience reassured Poke House that we would be able to lead them to their own successful programme rollout. You can find out more about that by reading this article about the Tim Hortons UK expansion programme.

Developing a restaurant fit out plan.

We met the Poke House team and gave them a Get it Built Right plan. This consisted of an initial discovery meeting so that we could understand exactly what Poke House was trying to achieve. This allowed us to create a customised programme plan and, together, we are getting their restaurants fitted out exactly as they imagined them. Even better, if they follow our plan exactly, we guarantee that their restaurants will be built on time and on budget.

If you’re looking for someone to guide your construction projects or programme, please give us a call to arrange a discovery meeting.

Failure to open as many restaurants as planned would have meant that Poke House was not able to generate their desired level of income. Failure to achieve the right standard of fit out would result in an underwhelming customer experience and would damage the Poke House brand.

Working together to deliver a successful construction programme.

Together, we are helping Poke House to fit out more and more restaurants in the UK which is helping them get their brand known across the country in the quickest time possible. Because they are now achieving the right standard of fit out, with the right finishes, fixtures and kitchen equipment, they are becoming a distinctive presence on our high streets. Customers are attracted to the bright, vibrant restaurants and are excited to try their delicious menu.

a police officer enjoys a poke bowl outside Poke House London Portobello Road

By giving Poke House clear direction for their construction projects, we are saving them the stress, time and money that project chaos was costing them. It’s a pleasure to see them become the successful owners of such a funky and popular restaurant chain.


Elizabeth Hewitt is CEO at Iconic Project Management

Elizabeth Hewitt.

Lizzie is CEO at Iconic Project Management, taking care of the running of the business so that the project managers can get on with the important job of managing projects.

Check her out on LinkedIn or say hi on Twitter @captainlizzo.

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