Here's all the ways we aloha poke

Q: Who owns the right to 'aloha poke'? A: Everyone
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You just don't get it, Aloha Poke Co. I mean, it's fine for you to sit there in Chicago and with no connection to Hawaii, open a poke shop, and then another and another until you have 15 poke shops from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. Pretty impressive, actually, considering you started in 2016. It's even OK for you to name your shops Aloha Poke.

What's not OK is for you to then tell everybody else who owns an Aloha Poke shop to change their name, because now you own the legal right to "Aloha Poke." You especially cannot send these cease-and-desist letters to poke shops in Hawaii, to Hawaiians with poke shops outside Hawaii or any poke shop owner who loves and understands Hawaii.

Because clearly, you don't. If you did, you would get the irony of threatening legal action over the Hawaiian word for love, in a culture where it's so pervasive that it's the same word for hello and goodbye. You need to come here and see how Hawaii relates to poke. You'd see how small most of our poke shops are, how they're mostly one-off family businesses. You'd see how we eat poke after the beach, take it to potlucks, bring it to pau hana in friends' garages after work, and make our own from fish our neighbor's girlfriend's uncle caught on his boat.

So when letters show up from attorneys in 36th-floor offices in Chicago, you can see how that might come across as heavy-handed. Even setting aside the incendiary issue of cultural appropriation, you've become the latest example of mainland Goliath versus local David. No aloha, Aloha Poke Co.

Now, on top of building a Midwest-based chain representing Hawaii food culture and staking nationwide claim to the words "Aloha Poke," you issue this clarification on your Facebook page: "... the company holds two federal trademarks for its design logo and the words 'Aloha Poke' for use in connection with restaurants, catering and take out services. This means that the company has the exclusive right to use those words together in connection with restaurant services within the US."

What's clear is that you're still missing the point. But there's one good thing, Aloha Poke Co.: You've reminded us how much we really, really aloha poke.

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