Fall 2017 Features

Meet The SMU Students Behind The Dallas Poke Craze

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.”

2017 Alumni July 2017

‘Empathy, adaptability and persistence’

As a newly minted SMU graduate with three degrees, Kovan Barzani not only has exceeded his Kurdish-American parents’ expectations, but also reinforced their decision to flee Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime for “peace and peace of mind” in the U.S.
While weighing three college scholarships during his last year at Liberty High School in Frisco, Kovan recalls his mother’s singular request, delivered with a smile: “Be sure to get at least two degrees – one for you and one for me.”
As it happens, Kovan chose SMU precisely because it could offer not two but the three degrees he sought – in economics, public policy and management – while helping him cultivate the three virtues most valued by his family: “empathy, adaptability and persistence.” Also a plus: His Plano-based family would be nearby as he navigated the next four years.
Read more at SMU News.