Hometown Poke Opens Healthy, Fast-Casual Restaurant
The owners celebrated the official grand opening of the fast casual cafe earlier this month, and donated 10 percent of sales to neighboring organizations
Which came first: the restaurant idea or the trailer? For Hometown Poke, a brick and mortar storefront was always the intention. It just took a little longer than co-founders Rebecca Brady and Tiffany Ting anticipated to open the doors of Hometown Cafe and Poke Bar at 185 Camp Street in the Mount Hope neighborhood of Providence.
“It was always our goal,” says Ting. “Last winter, we were looking around for spaces and it took awhile to find the right one. Commercial inventory was low. We found this place in early spring and signed the lease in May. We thought we would be open by July.”
Construction and other issues set them back to October. They celebrated the official grand opening of the fast-casual spot on Nov. 3 , and the owners donated 10 percent of sales to neighboring organizations the Billy Taylor House, Mt. Hope Neighborhood Association and Camp Street Community Ministries to help support their neighborhood.
The building where Hometown Poke is located is owned by Billy Taylor House, and Ting and Brady lease the space, which benefits the nonprofit. “Our rent goes to their program, which we love,” says Brady, who is a Pawtucket native. “They had wanted a cafe in this space to revitalize this area, but they realized they couldn’t run a cafe on their own, so they ended up looking to lease out the space.”
That’s when Hometown Poke stepped in, scoping out the available storefront and analyzing its potential. They knocked down the wall between two spaces to open up the restaurant, allowing for a bright and airy, clean look and capacity for both intimate nooks and a big communal table that invites groups to casually dine out or meet over coffee.
While Hometown Poke is known for its Hawaiian-style, build-your-own poke bowls, featuring high quality, sushi-grade ahi tuna and salmon, as well as chicken, shrimp and tofu, over rice with healthy toppings like avocado, seaweed salad, edamame and kale, Ting and Brady are also introducing new menu items, some for breakfast.
The restaurant serves acai bowls and toasts made with Seven Stars bread, pastries are delivered daily by Whisk Me Away, and the space doubles as a cafe with Borealis Coffee, MEM Tea and Nitro Cart coffee on draft. The toasts are available starting at 8 a.m., and the menu names play off navigational directions. “Part of that is Tiff and I have done so much traveling together, it’s really how our friendship blossomed,” Brady says. The co-owners met in California and travelled to Hawaii, where they fell in love with poke, and wanted to bring it to the East Coast.
“We are known for our poke, so I think it’s going to be a transition,” Brady says. “We are going to have to do more, just to have people associate us with some of the other things we’re offering.” The North toast is topped with smoked salmon, crème fraiche and microgreens; South has ricotta, bacon and honey; East includes hummus, tomato, feta and black pepper; and West is spread with avocado, red pepper and sunflower seeds.
Guests are welcome to come in for coffee and use free wifi while they work and stick around for lunch or dinner. “There aren’t a lot of coffee shops where you can get lunch, too,” Ting says. “I know when I am studying at a place for a day, I start with coffee, and after awhile I get hungry, but I don’t want to stop working.”
The other benefit of the new spot is that it’s a little off the beaten path which makes for easier parking. It has plenty of space for groups, and maybe even future events, like bridal or baby showers. “The size was right,” Ting says. “We also have space in the back, so we are going to do a patio and outdoor seating.”
Hometown Poke will continue to operate its cart and work at events. Book an event here. The cafe is open Tuesday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.