"It's wildly popular in Hawaii and it’s gotten big on the West Coast and up in New York," he said. "It’s just not a dish that’s come to the Southeast yet,” he said.
Patti Benedict, a partner and leasing manager for Main Street Properties in Chapel Hill, said she thinks the new restaurant will be a great fit in the community.
“Having a new and exciting concept is always a great draw,” she said. “This is a community that appreciates all types of food, which I love. So when we are considering new concepts, we certainly look for something that is unique, not just to our shopping center, but to our community.”
Jacqueline Chang, a first-year graduate student at UNC, said she is from California where poke has taken off recently.
“It’s something that is really trendy,” she said. “I just remember it becoming a big thing in the last five years.”
Chang said she’s always a little skeptical about trying Pacific inspired food in North Carolina since she's from the West Coast.
“I think it’s a pretty hard feat to accomplish," she said.
Despite the hesitation, Chang said people should be open minded to trying poke and eating raw fish.
“I think some people are a little squeamish when it comes to the idea of eating raw fish, but I think it’s great," she said. "I think it’s delicious — I have very high hopes for the new place."
First-year Andy Richardson used to work at Tom+Chee, which has locations around the country, before its Carrboro location closed in November 2015.
“I loved it, it was a great job and I loved being there because I could eat the food whenever I wanted and it was very good,” Richardson said.
Tom+Chee specialized in grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. Richardson many restaurants on Franklin Street don't contribute to the uniqueness of restaurants in the area.
"Whereas like Tom+Chee was, this place will be very unique and unlike anything else in Chapel Hill or Carrboro.”