Island Fin Poke CEO: “Corporate culture is the key to success” | A view from the top

Mark Setterington, CEO and co-founder of Island Fin Poké, talks about the importance of Ohana being Hawaiian to the family.

Mark Setterington, CEO and co-founder of Island Fin Poké, and his daughter, Taylor, who works at one of the sites, say the culture is part of the backbone of the brand. Provided

By Mark Setterington, CEO and Co-Founder of Island Fin Poké

Since 2016, Island Fin Poké has been serving our signature menu item to communities across the country: Hawaiian-style build-your-own poke bowls. In addition to capturing the traditional Hawaiian essence of the dish through our brand’s use of locally and responsibly sourced ingredients, Island Fin Poké’s corporate culture is heavily influenced by the concept of Ohana, which is Hawaiian for the family. For us, Ohana is an inclusive term that refers to our growing group of blood-related and chosen families who make every visit to Island Fin Poké more than just a bowl of poké.

While many small businesses struggled to weather the challenges of the pandemic, Island Fin Poké’s Ohana provided a welcoming family atmosphere. It was our secret to overcoming issues plaguing the restaurant industry, such as ever-changing restaurant regulations and labor and supply chain shortages. This culture deeply rooted in our brand ensures that all employees are truly cared for and treated as an extension of our family. Just as we want to establish an emotional connection with our customers and avoid a transactional relationship, we want our team members and our suppliers to feel the same appreciation and respect.

Due to instilling the value of Ohana in all of our team members, every customer or supplier is treated as a guest in our Island Fin Poké home by welcoming them warmly and sending them with a loving farewell until the next visit. This close-knit family that we have created and grown over the years has always been a priority for us, but it really became essential when the pandemic hit. Thanks to the Ohana we trained, our employee retention throughout the pandemic has been high. It proved to us that family is everything and the key to resilience in difficult times.

At each Island Fin Poké location, we have a one-meter sign that says “No Friends, Just Ohana Family”.

These aren’t just words to us and we aim to incorporate this message into as many aspects of the brand as possible. Everything we do, every team member we hire, every vendor we interview or partner with must embrace this concept. It’s obvious to all if this value isn’t instilled in everyone we work with, as it takes away the natural part of the unique, family-friendly experience that is Island Fin Poké.

As we continually look for ways to innovate in the fast-casual dining space, Island Fin Poké will always put first the need to be the glue that unites local residents and businesses. After surviving and ultimately thriving during one of the toughest times for the restaurant industry, I can honestly say it’s made all the difference in the world to get back to basics and start building a strong community. . Without our Ohana, we wouldn’t be where we are today and we will continue to give back to those who have been there for us every step of the way.