Popular Berkeley bakery aims to open second SF store next month

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Third Culture Bakery, best known for its famous and once-controversial mochi muffin, is getting closer to opening its newest San Francisco outpost in the Inner Sunset.

Co-owner Sam Butarbutar told Eater SF that the bakery at 549 Irving Street is waiting for its final health inspection and later told SFGATE that he expects the bakery will open before the end of the year.

“We’ve been delayed by the health department and construction material delays,” Butarbutar told SFGATE. “Hopefully [we can] open after Thanksgiving.”

Wenter Shyu, who also co-owns Third Culture Bakery, told SFGATE via email that the Inner Sunset location was supposed to open in October but experienced a setback when he and Butarbutar were asked to redo the counters and ceiling.

“It’s been so stressful and expensive,” Shyu said. “[We’re] working through all of that now and looking to open in early December. We’re very excited to join the mix and energy of the Sunset area.”

Earlier this year, Butarbutar and Shyu announced their plans to expand their mini East Bay mochi empire to San Francisco. They’ve since opened a large site in the Mission District at 1186 Valencia Street, which serves mochi waffles and egg sandwiches, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. (SFGATE and the San Francisco Chronicle are both owned by Hearst but operate independently of one another.)  

According to the Chronicle, the upcoming Inner Sunset location will be smaller than its Mission District counterpart and have a similar menu to the Berkeley flagship focusing on mochi and matcha desserts. Last year, Third Culture Bakery shuttered its Colorado storefronts following staffing issues, plummeting sales and alleged racist incidents, Shyu told the Denver Post.

Third Culture Bakery is slated to open a new storefront at 549 Irving Street in San Francisco by the end of the year. 

Nicola Parisi/Special to SFGATE

“As Asian Americans, 2021 brought on a lot of racist behavior and confrontational behavior in addition to the pandemic stresses,” Shyu previously told the Post. “It brought up a whole slew of difficulties. At some point, we were just so exhausted, and it just wasn’t quite worth it anymore, to be honest.”

Despite the Colorado closures, Butarbutar and Shyu have decided to focus their efforts on fortifying their preexisting Bay Area storefronts.

Third Culture Bakery took the Bay Area by storm beginning in 2016 when it debuted its chewy mochi muffin first at wholesale coffee shops. Later, the bakery introduced mochi doughnuts and added sweet matcha drinks to its showrooms and cafes. Third Culture Bakery has outposts in San Francisco and Walnut Creek in addition to its flagship location in Berkeley.

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