Onetime Potbelly executive joins Aloha Poke as CEO

Industry vet Chris Birkinshaw takes the top spot at the growing fast casual.

Aloha Poke Co. has appointed a former executive of Potbelly Sandwich Shop as its new chief executive officer.

Chris Birkinshaw is taking the helm at the Chicago-based fast casual as it embarks on an aggressive expansion plan. The chain's founder, Zach Friedlander, “is moving forward in his career,” a company spokeswoman said.

Chris Birkinshaw

Birkinshaw has worked with fast-casual chains for the past 18 years, from store-level operations at Starbucks to senior management at Potbelly.

At Aloha Poke, Birkinshaw will focus on new market development, franchise growth and joint venture partnerships.

The customizable poke bowl chain has nine Chicago-area units, as well as stores in Minneapolis, Denver, Los Angeles, Orange County, Calif., and Washington, D.C.

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