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Customers Flock to Pokeworks for Grand Opening

A line forms outside Pokeworks Saturday during the official grand opening of the restaurant in Harvard Square.
A line forms outside Pokeworks Saturday during the official grand opening of the restaurant in Harvard Square. By Ellis J. Yeo
By Franklin R. Civantos, Crimson Staff Writer

UPDATED: April 17, 2018 at 2:30 a.m.

A line of customers stretched out the door of Pokeworks on Saturday for the Irvine, Calif.-based chain’s “grand opening” in Harvard Square.

Pokeworks serves its namesake Hawaiian dish in a rice bowl, burrito, or salad with either chicken, tofu, or one of five types of seafood. Its Harvard Square location opened in mid-March at 1440 Massachusetts Ave, amid a snowstorm.

Saturday’s celebration, which comes about one month after the restaurant first opened its doors, served as an official welcoming from Pokeworks, and the fast food restaurant offered a buy one, get one free deal for any of its main dishes.

On the unusually cold April day, employees at the chain said they were pleasantly surprised by the large turnout for the special deal. At about 6 p.m., the line for poke extended well past the storefront. According to Pokeworks employee Ernest Lyles, this led to a complaint from nearby Otto’s Pizzeria that the foot traffic was blocking the entrance to their restaurant.

“It was actually all the way down to Bank of America,” Lyles said.

When the line later relocated to Church Street, wrapping the opposite direction around the Pokeworks storefront, it reached past the now-vacant Harvard Square Theatre.

Lyles said the fast-food chain also offered free miso soup samples to waiting customers to thank them for braving the cold as they waited—some for more than 30 minutes—for a taste of discounted poke.

Jaehyun “James” Lee ’21, a self-proclaimed poke enthusiast from San Diego, Calif., said he is pleased one of his favorite dishes has finally come to the Square.

“I’m a big fan of poke,” Lee said after waiting in line for around 20 minutes. “I’m pretty excited.”

“He dragged me out of Adams to come here,” Rachel D. Levy ’21 added. “High expectations.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: April 17, 2018

A previous version of this article incorrectly indicated that Pokeworks is an Oakland, Calif.-based company. In fact, Pokeworks is based out of Irvine, Calif.

—Staff writer Franklin R. Civantos can be reached at

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