I began working at Aloha Poke Company in July 2016. At the time, it was a counter top in a Food Court at Ogilvy Train Station in Chicago and had been open for 3 months. Inspired by long lines of loyal customers, I quickly spearheaded an operation to expand the concept from one to three locations. After our 3 spots were off and running, we went all in and embarked on national expansion. By July 2018, Aloha will be operating nearly 20 stores in 7 states - IL, CA, MN, WS, CO, DC, FL.
Areas of oversight: Director of Operations, New Store Opening Management, HR Management, Development of Area Managers, Development of General Managers, Director of Marketing, Content/Media Production, POS Menu & Operations Development, Catering/Delivery Development & Operations, Labor/Inventory Control, Author of Training Manuals, Quickbooks & Accounting, Payroll, Vendor Account Management, Maintenance of Positive Company Vibes.
If you didn't know about Pokē, now you know. It's partly because of photos like these shared by the Press & Social Media influencers across the nation
Designed www.alohapokeco.com with @covertnine. Director of the photo and video elements of the site.
Introduction, creation & development of a Catering Program with items such as a 'Build Your Own Pokē Bowl' Bar and The Sumo Bowl (Pictured above)
Build Your Own Bowl
Development of Delivery Operations for multiple Chicago Markets
The Aloha Menu
Creation and Development of the Training Manuals.
Can't post pics of these docs because they're top secret so you're just going to have to enjoy another amazing photo of our food.
Hiring, Training and Management of 100+ staff members.
Ingredient management and development of processes to ensure events unfold in a timely, orderly fashion on a daily basis in order to have all ingredients ready at the peak moment for service.
Creator of the Aloha Blue Steel pose 📷
You can order online:
We've built THIS MENU. Online & Kiosk ordering is different mindset of menu building than an in-store Cashier facing menu.
The deliciousness is in the details.
Selling good food & island vibes
Love at first bite
Big city flavor
Livin' that colorful life.
When food = art
See our blog post with Chicago Artist, Sarah Raskey HERE
My employment at Citizen Bar in River North began in December 2008. I was hired as an Assistant Manager with a promise of partnership if I produced positive results. In 2011, that partnership was delivered and I became Managing Partner.
At Citizen we achieved a notorious reputation as an outdoor entertainment destination through earned marketing efforts. Our ability to serve and connect with the community established a profitable and respected Citizen Bar brand in the River North community for a decade.
In addition to the above methods, much of our success can be attributed to the content direction on our social media channels, website, blog & email marketing efforts. The ops were launched during the birth of Social Media for businesses (2008) giving me a unique ground level perspective.
During my time at Citizen, I oversaw: Company cash flow, Account Management, P&L, Food/Liquor cost, Marketing direction, Media production, FOH Management (GM, AGM, HR Manager, Kitchen Manager, Event Planner), Building Maintenace, City/State Licensing, Insurance & Legal responsibilities.
Fall & Winter Menu Items
2015 & 2016
The best picture ever taken of Citizen
Citizen Blog Homepage Photo
Another angle of the Citizen blog's home page photo
One lucky chip
Spring 2016. A photo from Instagram. A conscious effort was made in the fall of 2015 to target Foodies with our Instagram account. We stopped posting flyers and focused only on food & drink items. More attention was given to individual image quality rather than volume or relevant timing of content like Twitter & Facebook.
21st Amendment, Hell or High Watermelon
Summer Beer: 2015
Dinner Menu: 2015
Blueberry Yum Yum
Summer Cocktail: 2015
New Brunch Item
Spring 2016. A photo from Instagram.
Annual Winter Menu Item. This was on the original menu and is a neighborhood staple as the longest standing regulars word of mouth contribute to it's validity
Summer Cocktail: 2015. As part of the Beam Portfolio, we needed to get an Effen vodka lemonade drink on the menu. Rather than just create a cherry lemonade, Citizen created a "Shark Lemonade." This turned out to be the top selling drink on the menu.
Summer Food: 2015. To capitalize on the trends, profitability and speed of tacos, Citizen focused it's summer dinner menu around them. The steak taco was the top selling taco. House made Green/Red Salsa
Spring 2016. A photo from Instagram
Summer menu items
The Big Duke Salad
Citizen's top selling salad since 2010
Dinner Menu: 2015
Lunch & Dinner menu item: 2012-2014
Summer: 2014. Maybe a spaceship too.
French Toast Sticks
For the kids & young at heart
For the adults
Fried Chicken Sandwich...and beverages.
Fall menu 2015
We had a photographer working part time in our kitchen for a couple months. Everyone and then we tapped into her brain for some #kitchenpics
Never frozen, cajun dry run, smoked, flash fried. Sauce served on the side so you may dip as you please.
Dinner Menu: Fall 2014
Hand cut Chicken Strips
Spring 2016: The Instagram world really liked this image.
This image was created for a blog post and to promote trivia. Spring 2016
Photo for a winter carry out taco image
Image can been seen in My Work under SPECIALS. Winter 2016
Image taken for social media...you can only write #TacoTuesday so many times before you just have to do something random. Winter 2016
Mac & Cheese Bites
The Mac & Cheese bite is an original menu item. dating back to 2006. The Ballast Point Sculpin was a new fave in 2015.
Textbook Citizen: 2012
Aloha Poke Website intro Video
When re-doing our website, we decided to insert a video element to show our stores, city, character & poke.
The Exploding Watermelon
We came up with a video to promote a house infused Bacardi Cocktail we sold at Citizen one summer
Citizen Rooftop Opening April 2014
After the WORST WINTER EVER we decided to do a time lapse of the roof filling up on the first day it opened.
Fall & Winter Cocktails at Citizen
Made a video to promote our fall/winter cocktails. As the seasons change Citizen becomes less of a popular bar. We combatted that this year by showcasing some of our fall/winter cocktails and personality.
Citizen End of Summer Recap 2014
Again, just a way to connect to the fall/winter crowd, show our personality and share some video content we collected over the summer.
Citizen End of Summer Recap
Another End of Summer content video
Specials, Flyers & Events
These images appeared on social media channels and the walls of Citizen Bar. All were done in conjunction with vendors/sponsors to promote and drive sales. Some were created in reaction to upcoming/current business trends. Others are a created to promote upcoming sporting events/holidays.
Each image has a brief explanation of it's goal.
This flier was used in the Redeye newspaper so we maiximized the space by advertising the two themes of Tuesday nights in one 1/4 page image.
Half Off Happy Hour
During winter, which is the slowest time of year, Citizen chose to drive business by dropping prices on food during the most popular time of the day to drink for the business crowd. Winter 2015
Open Table Intro
Citizen ran this promotion for the first month that Open Table was added to the business to both inform the public that the reservation option was now available and to train the staff to use the system by executing this promotion. Winter 2013.
Fried Chicken Sandwiches Monday
Essentially this poster says dinner and beer for $10. This is a good deal for River North and a good deal for Citizen to offer on Monday which is typically a slow night. Summer 2015
Sunday Taco Special
This special actually never ran because Sundays at Citizen in the summer 2015 were successful. In years past, they had not been, so this image was created in anticipation of launching this campaign mid summer when Sunday nights historically would begin to slow down.
Build your own Tator Tot Bar
A spin on build your own bloody mary bar. Executed during football season 2014
Carry Out Taco Deal
To keep our taco vibe going strong during the offseason we pushed this deal for two months.
Happy Hour Specials Image
Open Call Image
Fliers via social media were one of handful of ways we would seek workers for our summer season.
$5 Grey Goose Wednesdays
This was a great driver to build consistent Wednesday business. This promotion held strong from 2010 to 2014 but was taken down summer of 2015 because Wednesdays were established.
Captain Morgan Taste of River North
Captain Morgan was named main drink special during the weekend of Taste of River North at Citizen. A Sunday night Captain Morgan afterparty with neighborhood association members and festival staff was the end event to this weekend.
Fall & Winter Hours Image
Super Bowl 2015
Everyone has the game, Citizen's hook was guaranteed seating. And wings.
Notre Dame Fiesta Bowl Flier
Post Marathon Promotion
Citizen actually does solid business after races in Chicago because runners don't mind being outside. They promoted to marathon runners by using them to extend their route just a little further to get to the bar.
The Imerman Angels office was very close to Citizen for many years. They hosted many events for them. This one in particular was great because it was a celebratory fund raiser with multiple networks of individuals.
A way to promote our patio & our Chicago baseball teams.
St. Patricks Day
St. Patricks Day
St. Patty's Day 2014
March Madness Flier
Used on social media.
Effen Cherry and lemonade was requested to be no the drink menu at Citizen in the 2015. We found that drink boring. So we added a gummy shark and made it our top selling drink of the summer.
Citizen was a bar, not a nightclub so our strategy in creating DJ flyers was not to create images that were too similar to what the other clubs around River North were doing.
Citizen always wanted to convey that we were booking some of the best DJs in Chicago but that they could be seen & heard in an approachable setting. These flyers are designed with that in mind.
The Taste of River North
The Taste of River North Street fest began in July 2009 (my first summer at Citizen) and was placed 3 blocks West of Citizen Bar. It typically brought an extra 5,000 people to the neighborhood during the hot summer nights of July and quickly became the highest grossing weekend of the year at Citizen.
At first, this was just another streetfest for the neighborhood & for Citizen. Year’s 1 & 2, Citizen was just another vendor serving mini-burgers and street corn. However this placed great stress on our kitchen & management as it was difficult to handle the volume at the bar and at the street fest.
So in 2012, we renegotiated a deal with the street fest operators to allow Citizen to take over the Beer Tent. I worked to rebrand the fest, give it more energy and make it a better event for Citizen. I staffed the beer tent not only with Citizen workers, but regulars of the bar & some our immediate neighbors. This gave these customers a chance to be on the same side of the bar as their favorite bartenders/servers. It strengthened the bonds between bartender & customer. For years since 2012, the same regulars have worked the beer tent. Many others have joined them over the years, as well as former staff members who come back to work the fest. There is now a community of Taste of River North workers, both staff and customers.
Additionally, I volunteered our services to the Taste of the River North, FREE OF CHARGE. All bar proceeds go directly to the River North Neighborhood Association. In the first year we doubled beer sales that they had done in the past. In the second, we doubled that total. You can imagine how happy the association is with this. And I can't think of a better Association for a bar in Chicago to make happy than their Neighborhood Association.
In exchange for our volunteer services, I negotiated that every cup that was used at the street fest would have a Citizen Bar logo on it. So at peak hours, when the bulk of the people were there to watch the bands, thousands of logos were walking around the street fest in the hands of our target market, representing our brand in the exact fashion we would like to be perceived. We typically went through 50K cups.
Finally, I negotiated deals with liquor vendors to put their product on special all weekend long at Citizen in exchange for the purchase T-shirts which were used as staff uniforms behind the bar at the street fest. Liquor can't be served at the street fest but can be served 3 blocks away at the bar so I exploited this sponsorship opportunity. And each year we threw an official afterparty with the sponsoring liquor donating drinks for all the street fest employees/vendors/volunteers/neighborhood association members...everyone involved in the fest. This would pack Citizen Bar on a the final Sunday night and put the icing on the cake of an already great weekend of sales.
Ultimately, my work with the Taste of River North transformed this weekend into the modern destination that it is for residents of River North and other Chicago communities. Through design, music & energy, Citizen has been a big part of making this event what it is today.
Taste of River North Cup
In 2014 we got creative with our logo and created a separate brand for the street fest.
Social Media Image
Used create excitement and gain volunteers for the beer tent
Flyer for the bar
This is a flyer for at the bar and at the street fest. We made one bar on our side patio a Grey Goose and Lemonade bar.
Promoting the Sunday night afterparty all weekend long on our T-shirts
Captain Morgan Social Media Tile
Captain Morgan Afterparty T-shirt Image
Captain Morgan After Party T-shirt Designs
Effen Sponsor and Afterparty Poster
Staff, friends, regulars and local company Right Size
One of my first decision at Citizen back in the winter 2009 was to create a college brand identity at the bar. At the time, very few bars in River North were flying a college flag which was a common practice at bars in the surrounding neighborhoods.
We chose Notre Dame due to their large local alumni association, top tier college football presence and it's grass roots identity with the culture in Chicago.
Being a Notre Dame bar is more than just putting up a flag and airing football games. It takes work connecting with Alumni Association, banquets, charities and other sports in addition to hosting on a solid Saturday afternoon game day atmosphere.
Where sales once were dismal, Saturday morning reservations filled the entire establishment before the weekend arrives routinely. Bowl games attendance force us to tent our outdoor areas and set up TVs.
In the final years of Citizen, The Notre Dame Alumni Association of Chicago expanded and offered Notre Dame bar sponsorship to other establishments. An application process was created and though other local venues that applied could offer more space, especially during winter months, Citizen remained the lone River North sponsor bar. I believe this was due to an established brand loyalty that we cultivated with the Notre Dame fans of Chicago.
Citizen & Notre Dame
It takes more than just putting up a flag to be a Notre Dame Bar in Chicago. But when you do put the flag up, you have to go with the Green Shamrock.
Game Days @ Citizen Bar
Often times Notre Dame games are during the afternoons however we chose to make our main flyer have a "big game" feeling to add a little more excitement and to connect people to the times they've watched important Notre Dame games under the lights.
Annual Rockne Donation
One of our thank you's to the Notre Dame Almuni Association of Chicago was an annual bus donation to their Rockne banquet. This is their biggest event of the year and Citizen donates one of the most coveted items. The donation was both great marketing at the banquet and at Citizen on the day of the game.
Strategic Marketing for other sports
Though the priority for ND fans is football, when the basketball team is relevant Citizen is to capitalize. Not all games are busy, but those against a perennial national powerhouse such as Duke were able to draw a large audience in January, typically the slowest time of year for Citizen.
NCAA Tournament Basketball & Chairty
This event had a layer of Charity to it. Though, NCAA tourney games typically already bring larger crowds, we chose to work with the Sue Duncan Charity for this event. We work with them on a regular basis. They known to be social group so we added their crowd to our existing crowd, hired a DJ and created an excellent game watch atmosphere.
To be able to contribute to others in need is a privilege.
A Night With the Stars
This page was part of the literature that distorted at the Children's Place Association's Summer Event, 'A Night With the Stars.' Citizen was a donor to this event and I DJed the party.
By meeting the CPA in the summertime and donating, I was to book a winter event with them to fill the bar with people during our offseason.
Promoting the February Event
To promote event, we sold hearts that we posted behind the bar for the month of February. People could color on them and write their name. This was a good way to raise funds for the CPA, promote the event, as well give an opportunity for those who couldn't make the event to donate/visit Citizen Bar.
To coincide with the Taste of River North Weekend, which is already huge at Citizen, we used the popularity of the street fest to drive people to Citizen for a charity event on Sunday morning.
Toys for Tots
Every year since 2006 (dating back to my days at Gaslight), we have a had a Toys for Tots party that donated Toys to the kids of Oakton Elementary School. My friend used to be a teacher there so that's how the relationship began. She has since left but we've carried on the tradition.
Bedford Toys for Tots
Not only do we do this party at Citizen but at Bedford as well.
Bedford Toys for Tots Poster
Note the Candy Cane DM logo
Some Toys collected
Sue Duncan Foundation
During my first year of management at Citizen (2009), I was introduced to people at the Sue Duncan Children's Center. Every summer, we've held their 'Summer Soiree.'
Sunday Brunch Fundraiser
Another fundraiser we did for the CPA in 2014
Sue Duncan March Madness Game Watch
Since hosting their Summer Soiree, we added the March Madness game watch.
Another March Madness Game Watch
Pineapple Party Starter
During the summer of 2015 I created a piece of content that spanned across my multiple brands in the interest of selling more Don Julio Tequila.
As a DJ, I recorded a mix called the Pineapple Party Starter. As a bar operator, I created a drink called the Pineapple Party Starter made with Don Julio. I created a custom menu for the cocktail that was dropped on tables at Citizen during the month of July. When customers would order the drink, they would get a USB with the mix on it.
I also recorded a 2nd mix, an underground house mix called Same Pineapple, Different Party. I put this on the USB as well. House music is my true love and while the Pineapple Party Starter was a Top 40, electro-pop mix, Same Pineapple, Different Party was snapshot of the the underground house I was playing during the summer of 2015
Through creating this drink /menu/mix, Don Julio sales rose dramatically and the tequila became part of Citizen summer culture. Don Julio was a new brand introduced to Citizen in the summer of 2015. It directly competed with similar successful tequila brand Patron in part because of the Pineapple Party Starter.
Pineapple Party Starter Mix Cover Art
Social Media Invite to the Mix Launch Party at Citizen
We ended up going with the Purple Pineapple and purple theme in general because my wife like that one best.
Custom Drink Menu
This is the custom drink menu that was given to customers during the month of July at Citizen Bar