Since 2004, Yelp has worked to connect millions of people to the best in local business. In that time we’ve met thousands of passionate small business owners, a group as hardworking and diverse as any you’ll find. In this series, we share stories of just some of the people who, through their commitment to building great local businesses, are sustaining the vibrant local communities we call home.
Growing up in Fujian, China and New York City, Chu Xin Jiang never intended to end up in Charleston, SC. She had, however, always aspired to own her own business. After spending some time working at her brother’s restaurant in Charleston, she moved to NYC with the intent of following her own dreams. In NYC, she blossomed, meeting her husband and learning a lot about what she did and did not want to do in her own restaurant. After a few years managing different restaurants in NYC, she was starting to feel restless and anxious to own something of her own–although what that looked like, she and her husband weren’t sure at first.
You know that old adage “find what you love and the money will follow?” Well Chu and her husband are proof that it’s true. Their restaurant, Poke Tea House, was literally the perfect marriage of her and her husband’s passions. He’s a classically trained sushi chef with over 6 years of experience, who came from a city where poke was hugely popular. She was a restaurant manager with a love of bubble tea. So what do you get when you put poke and boba together? One of the most highly reviewed Poke restaurants in Charleston on Yelp.
Since Chu had lived and worked in Charleston during her high school years, she and her husband decided to move back here to start their restaurant because — like most people who spend some time in Charleston — Chu had fallen in love with the Holy City. “I want people to know that I chose Charleston to start my restaurant because I wanted to give back to the city that I spent my high school years in and because I thought I had a business that would bring something new and different to the Charleston community.” After being open for a year and a half, Charleston locals as well as tourists are still surprised to find a poke place in a smaller city like Charleston.
Owning a business — especially a restaurant — is a stressful undertaking. You have long hours, lots of manual labor (those avocado roses don’t bloom on their own, after all), figuring out how to balance your supply chain, and hoping that people ultimately like what you produce. “It’s always been stressful, but seeing customers satisfied with our food is what makes me feel like what I do is all worth it!” All that hard work is definitely paying off, as Chu and her husband are getting ready to open their second location.
If you’re considering opening a restaurant, Chu has some advice for you: “If you know that cooking is your passion and your dream is to open your own restaurant: do it! If you fail, figure out which part you didn’t do great on and learn from that. Anyone’s opinion is good to take note on and use it to make yourself better. That’s something I always remind myself.”
Regardless of your what your dreams may hold, Chu wants you to follow your dreams. “Don’t tell yourself you can’t do it until you’ve tried,” she says. “Two years ago, I told myself ‘I can’t’ and ‘I won’t be able to,’ but life is short, you’ve got to try! And now look where I am!” Believing in herself has really paid off. She’s thriving and loving Charleston, about to open a second location of her own restaurant, making her customers smile and spending as much time as possible with her husband and her daughter. That certainly sounds like a dream come true to us!
Want to know more? Check out and bookmark Poke Tea House on Yelp!
Poke Tea House also took part in an event for the Charleston Yelp community, at YelpCon back in October 2017 in which they provided poke and bubble samples for our attendees. Read more about that here.