Baton Rouge’s first poké restaurant, Southfin Southern Poké, is set to open March 20 in the Southdowns Shopping Center.
The restaurant has been in the works for some 18 months, and has been under construction since last September in the space formerly occupied by Truly Free Bakery. Co-owners Trey Williams and Stephen Hightower, who also own the three City Pork restaurants, have invested approximately $300,000 renovating the 1,800-square-foot space, which will seat 60 patrons, and adding a patio off to the side.
“It will be a soft opening on the 20th, but we’re really ready to roll,” Hightower says. “We’ve been working on it for more than a year.”
Poké is a Hawaiian fish concept. The word itself in Hawaiian translates to “to cut” or “to dice,” and the dish typically consists of cuts of marinated sushi-grade fish—usually ahi tuna—atop rice, salad or noodles in a bowl. It’s a concept that has been gaining traction with foodies and restaurants in major U.S. cities in recent years.
Williams says he hopes the Southdowns location will be the first of several Southfin restaurants in the local market, and he believes the concept could be expanded regionally and beyond.
Southfin Southern Poké is the fourth restaurant to join the family of eateries under the City Pork Hospitality corporate umbrella. The company owns City Pork Deli and Charcuterie, City Pork Brasserie & Bar, and City Pork Kitchen and Pie, as well as a growing catering business.
Later this year, Hightower and Williams plan to consolidate their kitchen operations to a commissary facility they will renovate at 930 Joplin Ave. near the Capitol Lake. The partners acquired the warehouse space last summer for $150,000 from the owners of the Ready Portion Meat Co., which closed last year after several decades in business.
Plans for turning the building into a commissary have been on the back burner while the partners focus on getting Southfin up and running. But once the new restaurant opens, they hope to turn their attention to consolidating all their culinary operations into a single, central location.
“The plan is to base everything there,” Hightower says. “It’s a great building in a great location that is easily accessible from all our restaurants.”