Popular Berkeley bakery aims to open second SF store next month

Third Culture Bakery, best known for its famous and once-controversial mochi bun, is inching closer to opening its new San Francisco outpost at Inner Sunset.

Co-owner Sam Butarbutar told Eater SF that the bakery at 549 Irving Street is awaiting its final health inspection, later telling SFGATE that he expects the bakery to open before the end of the year.

“We have been delayed by the health department and delays in construction materials,” Butarbutar told SFGATE. “I wish [we can] open after Thanksgiving.

Weter 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 the ceiling.

“It’s been very stressful and expensive,” Shyu said. “[We’re] working on all of that now and looking to open early december. We are 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 mochi empire from the East Bay to San Francisco. They have since opened a large Mission District spot at 1186 Valencia Street, serving up mochi waffles and egg sandwiches, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. (SFGATE and the San Francisco Chronicle are owned by Hearst but operate independently.)

According to the Chronicle, the upcoming Inner Sunset location will be smaller than its Mission District counterpart and will have a similar menu to the Berkeley flagship that will focus on mochi and matcha desserts. Last year, Third Culture Bakery closed its stores in Colorado due to staffing problems, falling sales and alleged racist incidents, Shyu told the Denver Post.

Third Culture Bakery is scheduled to open a new store at 549 Irving Street in San Francisco later in the year.

Third Culture Bakery is scheduled to open a new store at 549 Irving Street in San Francisco later in the year.

Nicola Parisi/Special for SFGATE

“As Asian-Americans, 2021 brought a lot of racist behavior and confrontational behavior on top of the stress of the pandemic,” Shyu previously told the Post. “It brought me a great deal of hardship. At some point, we were so exhausted that it wasn’t worth it anymore, to be honest.”

Despite the Colorado closures, Butarbutar and Shyu have decided to focus their efforts on strengthening their existing stores in the Bay Area.

Third Culture Bakery took the Bay Area by storm starting in 2016, when it debuted its chewy mochi muffin for the first time in wholesale cafes. Later, the bakery introduced mochi donuts and added sweet matcha drinks to its showrooms and cafeterias. Third Culture Bakery has locations in San Francisco and Walnut Creek in addition to its main location in Berkeley.

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