The pokébowl is almost indispensable in the Dutch catering and home delivery scene. However, the concept was still in its infancy five years ago. The perfect moment for brother and sister Gerrit Jan Wetzel and Quinta Wetzel to bring the food hype to the Netherlands in just five months.
Together they opened their first Poké Perfect branch in Amsterdam. Now, five years later and twelve branches open after that, the duo drives more than 200 employees and inspires many restaurants and other concepts. Quinta could be summarizing her success: “Teamwork makes a dream work.” Gerrit Jean Witzel lived his own entrepreneurial spirit before launching Poké Perfect. In his younger years he had a business of fireworks. Later, he ran a foreign nightclub and owned a boat rental business. His sister Quinta Witzel worked full time as a model. “If you had told me five years ago that I would be where I am today, with all I’ve learned, I wouldn’t have believed you,” she says.
“In 2016 I stopped modeling and came back from the US to Holland. I started studying international business at Victoria University and eventually saw myself with a job at a company in Zuidas. Nothing turned out to be any less true.” Everything has changed for Gerrit Jean, too. He says, “In recent years we have been on an amazing learning curve. With my experience in entrepreneurship and the choice to study management, economics and law, getting started wasn’t the hardest part. However, we had no experience building a scalable concept in the catering business – and that was it. The idea from the start. It was really learning by doing.”
Every day adventure
Quinta is building on her modeling career experience to become even stronger. The similarities are many. She says, “Bokeh is my kid, so I’m also on vacation. I answer emails and make sure I’m available. As a model too, you can be on vacation and get busy with work – in this case your body and your food.” She continues, “I’ve been living a diverse life. Irregular working hours and sudden workdays. Sometimes you don’t have work for days, sometimes you don’t get a day off for a few weeks. Modeling taught me what discipline is. It made me strong, both personally and physically. It was… Difficult at times, but it also brought me a lot of interesting experiences. These experiences remain valuable.”
For Gerrit Jan, the biggest change is the continuous operation of the Poké Perfect reel. He explains: “Now we are open seven days a week at twelve locations, with about twenty employees working at each location. Only at night no one works for a while. However, some cleaners start too early or work late after time. Closure. Business that never stops was new to me. Not to mention the entire supply and production chain that precedes the bouquet bowl. There is work going on in and within the company. This changes our role, but also our experience, knowledge and skills.”
In short: the company’s rapid growth is a challenge. Quinta and Gerrit both use prior experience where possible, but are equally forced to adapt to an environment that is changing at a rapid pace. “Quality assurance is critical,” Quinta explains. “There is a good chance that if someone doesn’t get a good bowl once, they will never come back. We now have all kinds of procedures and checks needed for that.”
Looking to the future, Quinta and Gerrit Jan dream that Poké Perfect will continue to grow in the next five years. Quinta: “In 2026, Poké Perfect will be the largest in Benelux with over eighty locations – and it’s still going strong.”
“We recently made huge strides in this with a new investor: Poke House,” adds Gerrit Jan. Poke House currently operates in Italy, Portugal, Spain, France and the United Kingdom. We are pleased to enter into the partnership and join forces. This collaboration gives us the opportunity to share technology, knowledge, data, and insights. Additionally, the Poke House investment will allow us to accelerate our expansion plans in which Poké Perfect will continue to trade under its own name. For new locations, we are always looking for enthusiastic franchisees with whom we can realize our ambitions together.”
Since the family bond is the main force behind the growing company, this goal can easily become a reality. “I love having a painting made up of a man and a woman,” says Gerrit Jean. “Then you look at things from different angles.” Kenta agrees. “As a family, you can also get started quickly with a few words. You tell each other the truth faster than you do with business partners, where you may be judged more on atmosphere than content. At least that’s how it works for us.” She continues: “Our older sister now works full-time at the company – and that’s going well too. Of course you may sometimes make a business mistake, but it doesn’t matter: we go left or right somewhere, or start over. The experience we’ve gained and are still gaining. Priceless – and no one can take it from us.”