Craveworthy Brands is on a roll. In the past few months alone, the restaurant group – founded in 2022 by seasoned restaurateur and former Jimmy Johns CEO Gregg Majewski – has acquired sister company Mongolian Concepts, adding Genghis Grill, Flat Top Grill and BD’s Mongolian Grill to its growing portfolio; it’s named a new chief growth and development officer in Jeremy Theisen; and it’s added former Yum Brands CEO Greg Creed to its advisory board as it seeks capital raises for even more acquisitions and concepts.
And, earlier this month, the company opened the first brick-and-mortar location of its newest brand, called Lucky Cat Poke Company, in the Chicago suburb of Oakbrook, Ill. Craveworthy has ambitious plans for Lucky Cat Poke Company, including an intent to expand through virtual kitchen models with a target of opening 55 such models by the end of this year. After this initial 55-unit rollout, Craveworthy is offering the concept to its existing franchisee base where applicable.
“This approach aims to rapidly increase Lucky Cat’s accessibility and reach, catering to the evolving preferences of consumers for convenient, on-the-go, high-quality dining options,” Majewski said. “It was created to tap into the growing demand for fresh, healthier, customizable and globally inspired cuisines.”
Poke’s popularity is indeed on the rise because of all those factors. According to a Technavio market study, the global market for poke, a rice and fish meal with Hawaiian origins, is expected to increase by over 8% with 71% of that growth coming from North America. As such, several other poke concepts are also eyeing aggressive growth, from Aloha Poke Company to Pokemoto and Pokeworks. However, Majewski is confident Lucky Cat Poke Company will differentiate itself through its virtual footprint, its technology integration, and its menu. Craveworthy’s Chefs Robert Kabakoff and Becca McIntyre created that menu, which includes appetizers, bowls soups, desserts and a create-your-own option with bases, proteins, mix-ins, sauces, and toppings.
“Lucky Cat Poke Company distinguishes itself through its unwavering commitment to using the freshest, high-quality ingredients, resulting in uniquely crafted poke bowl combinations inspired by global flavors,” Majewski said. “The concept can rapidly expand via both brick-and-mortar and virtual models, ensuring widespread accessibility. The brand’s integration of advanced technology for ordering and operations caters to the fast-paced lifestyle of modern consumers.”
All of these features, he adds, “solidify Lucky Cat Poke Company’s position as an innovative and exceptional player in the competitive fast casual dining landscape.” Another differentiator, according to Majewski, is Lucky Cat’s ability to leverage Craveworthy’s scale, tapping into shared resources, expertise, and cross promotion. Such benefits are a big reason why more restaurant companies are merging and diversifying, and why Craveworthy itself continues to grow. For now, Craveworthy’s portfolio includes the aforementioned legacy brands from Mongolian Concepts, and also emerging brands, Wing it On!, Krafted and The Budlong Southern Chicken.
“Being part of a diverse restaurant portfolio offers Lucky Cat access to Craveworthy’s accumulated knowledge in areas like operations, branding, marketing and culinary innovation,” Majewski said. “This approach can aid Lucky Cat in establishing a strong presence and the ability to expand quickly.”
Contact Alicia Kelso at [email protected]