A restaurant craze springing up in major metropolitan cities like New York and Los Angeles will soon arrive in downtown Spartanburg.
Nicole Sophabmixay and her nephew, Benny Chen, plan to open Pokérrito, a concept that blends Hawaiian cuisine with sushi, in the 2,700-square-foot space at 119 N. Church St. next to Growler Haus.
Sophabmixay said the eatery could open by the end of December or early January. She hopes it will create at least 10 jobs.
“Spartanburg is our home,” Sophabmixay said. “We have been eyeing that location for a while… We knew we wanted to do something new; something different. We’re very excited about this.”
Sophabmixay is a member of Spartanburg’s Lam family, which has been influential to the local restaurant scene for more than a decade.
She has cut her teeth at Lime Leaf Thai and the SunKing Chinese Buffet/Ichiban Japanese restaurants in Spartanburg, Koi Asian Bistro in Greenville and other dining establishments in the area.
Sophabmixay said she has family members in the Northeast who have had success starting their own poke (pronounced poke-eh) restaurants. She wanted to share the concept with her hometown and complement her family’s portfolio of eateries.
Pokérrito’s menu will center on the “sushi burrito,” Sophabmixay said.
Customers will be able to pick from a wide variety of ingredients and then choose whether to “roll it” in seaweed covered with Japanese rice, or to “bowl it,” she said.
The menu will include both raw and cooked items, and other goodies, such as edamame and fresh mango, Sophabmixay said.
Pokérrito will also have Soju, a Korean alcohol that can be used to make cocktails.
Sophabmixay said, to the best of her knowledge, Pokérrito will be the first poke restaurant in South Carolina.
“We’ve been waiting for the right fit and we finally have it,” said local businessman Andrew Babb, who has leased the space to Sophabmixay and Chen. “I’m very excited about it. It will be the first poke restaurant in South Carolina. It’s another first in Spartanburg.”
Babb said the lease includes 300 square feet in an unfinished space at the corner of North Church and Dunbar streets that previously housed an outdoor coffee stand.
Sophabmixay said the space could be used to house outdoor seating for Pokérrito, but the priority is to complete work on the interior. She praised Babb his work in helping her restaurant land in the space.
“This wouldn’t have been possible without Andrew,” Sophabmixay said. “He has been fantastic to work with.”
For more information, visit: www.facebook.com/pokerrito.