A Fresh Take on the Fast Casual Scene
As the newcomer to the NYC fast casual scene, the guys at RAW MKT are keeping things fresh. Fresh being key, since we’re talking about fish. Partners Jared Marcus, Scott Schubiner, and Krish Jayaram were determined to deliver fine dining flavors at attractive price points, finding inspiration from Hawaiian, Japanese and Brazilian cuisines. Enter RAW MKT, serving fresh poke bowls, hand rolls, acai and more in Greenwich Village. We chatted with Jared about what exactly Hawaiian-style poke is, his favorite item from the menu, and what he hopes the future holds for the new downtown eatery.
How did RAW MKT go from being just an idea between friends to becoming a reality as business partners?
Scott, my brother-in-law, Krish, and I were discussing with our family their idea to open a coffee shop. We were critical of the idea so we discussed the concept with a consultant who focused on feasibility studies. After learning quickly how difficult it was to create size and scale in an already crowded coffee market, we quickly moved on to new trends.
What got us excited about poke at the time was the trend had truly taken off and was proven on the West Coast, where Scott is from originally, and not a single restaurant in 2015 was solely focused on poke in NYC. We grouped together both equity partners, hospitality and branding consultants, and two years later the business came to life.
With each of you having backgrounds in different fields, what would you say the other two bring to the table on this new venture?
I have an entrepreneurial background with Everything Camper & LM Real Estate Partners, as well as real life financial and corporate background from Gramercy Capital and Alliance Bernstein.
Krish brings tech experience (previously at Venmo & Paypal, and now working on Payments/Design at Snapchat).
Scott brings a real estate developers backgrounds with a no quit mentality – day to day operating partner.
On to the food. What exactly is Hawaiian-style poke?
Traditionally Hawaiian poke is served deli-style, marinated and mixed with other ingredients. Picture how in a NY bagel store you will see tuna salad, chicken salad, egg salad, etc. What we noticed about the places on the West Coast was that they were all making poke more like a “make your own salad” and less like the traditional Hawaiian dish. In our opinion, this bastardazation of poke makes it less flavorful, so we went against trend and followed the true Hawaiian roots.For poke plebeians with not much experience with the cuisine, what would you recommend they get as an introduction to the menu?
Poke (fish) is served raw and cold over hot rice. This temperature contrast separates poke apart from other cuisines. This temperature contrast coupled with traditional fruit – mango and or pineapple – makes poke truly unique for the average NYC lunch crowd. My favorite dish is our “Electric Salmon” which blends Atlantic salmon, chives, pineapple, serrano chili, radish sprouts, and chili yuzu sauce.
Tell us a little bit about the inspiration for the space.
It’s a contemporary take on the kind of local food markets that were historically scattered around lower Manhattan.
The Lawrence Group New York opted for a design concept that combines showcasing the creation of the fresh fish-based poke menu with a market experience.
The authentic character of the space is highlighted through the restoration and reuse of segments of exposed concrete and brick on the floors and walls.
You’re just shy of your first full month in business. Leave us with this: what’s one thing you’ve learned so far and one thing you’re hoping to by the time you wrap up month two.
We learned that no matter how much you prepare for opening, nothing can prepare you for the unexpected. Equipment breaks, staffing can be tough, and customers are unpredictable. All we can do now is move fast to rectify mistakes and try to foresee our next mistake; because mistakes happen. Its all about how you respond.
By the time we wrap up month two I’d like to see our service and food consistency be truly honed in. No matter how much you train, because employees constantly turnover in this business, it’s hard to execute consistently. However, after each week, we notice we continue to improve.
61 E 8th St., @rawmkt