August 8, 2017

Credit SMU undergraduates Brandon Cohanim and Francois Reihani for importing Dallas’ latest food craze. Spurred by entrepreneurial cravings and an eye for trends, the California transplants opened Pōk the Raw Bar in January, the city’s first restaurant focused on poke (pronounced poh-kay), a raw fish salad with Hawaiian roots.

Located in the prime Uptown neighborhood, the sleek dining destination is more than just a business to Cohanim and Reihani. It’s also a platform for their “Imagine X Inspire” social impact project, which they launched through SMU’s Engaged Learning program.

Their idea for a job-training program for teens on the cusp of aging out of the foster care system won a $5,000 award at an international business plan competition in April.

“It’s not just about how many people we serve,” Cohanim says. “It’s also about how many people we help.”

 

Ready For A Big Night

The student restaurateurs welcomed SMU photographer Guy Rogers III behind the scenes shortly after the opening of their new hot spot in Uptown

While Dallas sushi legend Jimmy Park manned the raw bar, Brandon Cohanim and Francois Reihani prepped the staff on the details, including the fine art of matcha tea service.

Among their first guests was SMU Professor Simon Mak. Cohanim says Mak’s entrepreneurship class in the Cox School of Business “opened up our minds and helped us focus on our goals and strategy.”