Name: Regina Cheung
New Title: Chief executive officer, chief financial officer, Pokeworks
Previous Title: Chief financial officer, Pokeworks
Cheung has worked off and on in restaurants since 2004. She originally joined Pokeworks in 2021 as CFO. Prior to that role, Cheung worked in financing at Blaze Pizza from late 2016 to 2021, a period in which that brand experienced significant growth. Cheung also worked as a consultant in financial planning for a variety of businesses for six years from 2011 to 2016, and before that worked at Panda Restaurant Group.
Cheung, who has served in the CEO role since June according to her LinkedIn profile, will continue to hold the CFO role as well, the company said in a press release emailed to Restaurant Dive. Cheung’s precise start date is unclear; it is also unclear whether she served as interim-CEO prior to the announcement, or has been permanent CEO since June. Pokeworks did not immediately respond to a request for clarification.
Regina Cheung’s restaurant resume:
June 2023 to Present: Chief executive officers chief financial officer, Pokeworks
Oct. 2021 to Present: Chief financial officer, Pokeworks
May 2019 to Oct. 2021: Vice president of Finance, Blaze Pizza
Dec. 2016 to April 2019: Director of financial planning and analysis, Blaze Pizza
July 2010 to Dec. 2016: On demand finance and analytics director, independent consultant
July 2007 to Aug. 2010: Strategy project manager, Panda Restaurant Group
July 2004 to July 2007: Senior financial analyst, Panda Restaurant Group
What’s on Cheung’s plate: Pokeworks is focusing on growing its franchisee profitability and entering new markets, the press release stated. Cheung will continue to work with the company’s co-founders, who “are returning to the brand in various consultative capacities,” per the release.
Pokeworks currently operates 60 stores spread across 20 states, and is working to improve the scalability of its franchising system. In 2022, the brand debuted a personalized digital rewards platform to drive repeat visits and tried a form of plant-based pork in its corporate stores.
The brand’s expansion has been backed by Toridoll Holdings, a major Japanese restaurant company, since 2018. Under previous CEO Steve Heeley, Pokeworks signed a 50-unit deal to expand in Canada and opened a location in Taiwan and several units in Mexico, marking the start of the brand’s international growth. Cheung will help ensure the brand’s priorities remain unchanged as it expands internationally.
Co-founder Mike Chen highlighted Cheung’s Asian heritage in the press release. She will be the brand’s first female and Asian-American CEO.
“Poke plays a large role in Asian food culture,” Chen said. “Having a leader who shares that culture as part of her DNA will help us maintain our authenticity.”