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SF Chef Calls Out Food Tech Companies That ‘Just Don’t Listen’

Also: Shaw’s will return to West Portal, and more news to start your day

Food delivery company Din rented space from chef Hyunjoo Albrecht, then shut down when it ran out of money

A San Francisco kimchi chef has sworn off business relationships with Silicon Valley companies after working with them for a decade

Speaking with KQED, Hyunjoo Albrecht, the founder of hot sauce and kimchi company Sinto Gourmet, has harsh criticism for the many well-funded Silicon Valley food operations she’s seen pass through the huge Bayview commissary kitchen her business built, saying that after a multitude of bad experiences, she’ll never work with a tech company again.

Her initial plan was to rent the extra space in the 5,000-square-foot warehouse to local cooks, she says, but the prospective tenants who came knocking were, she tells KQED, companies and apps that burned through venture capital, went bust, and bailed. All were “young, white, the kind of people you see in a J. Crew catalog,” she says, and “they just don’t listen. The only things they care about are their goals, their investors and their ‘scalability.’”

Albrecht says that her business became successful enough that she could swear off the tech subtenants, but after the pandemic hit, she turned to a San Mateo food box app called Local Crate to help distribute her goods. She was again disappointed with Silicon Valley when Local Crate allegedly lagged on payments, saying “It was not a lot of money, but it made me really upset. I don’t know why they run the business like this.”

Update: After this item was published, Frank Jackman, the CEO & Co-Founder of Local Crate emailed Eater SF to dispute Albrecht’s claims. “Yes, one time we were late paying due to a returned check caused by fraud on our account which was caused by someone hacking our ad account on Facebook,” he says, and “Hyunjoo Albrecht tried to contact me about this issue but I was out of the office due to a family tragedy. Once Hyunjoo contacted someone else at Local Crate about the returned check, I was made aware and we handled the issue the same day back in February.”

Jackman says that his company is “attempting to reach out to KQED and Sinto Gourmet to figure out where the miscommunication on this is. We love Sinto Gourmets’ product and hope this is just a large misunderstanding.”

And in other news...

  • Mamahuhu, the Clement Street fast casual Chinese spot from Michelin-honored chef Brandon Jew, announced Thursday via Instagram that it had temporarily closed after a worker tested positive for COVID-19. The spot “will only reopen again once we confirm that everyone on the team is healthy and has tested negative,” they say, and “as of now, we are relieved to say that we have already received negative test results from more than half of our team.” [SF Gate]
  • Upscale Cole Valley sandwich shop/grocery Luke’s Local is expanding to Cow Hollow. [Hoodline]
  • Food writer Elena Kadvany has more on the burgeoning underground industry of food made in unpermitted home kitchens and sold via social media and word-of-mouth. [The Six Fifty]
  • Laid off in the pandemic, a trio of former chefs at Oakland’s Michelin-starred Commis have launched a backyard pop-up called “Brokeass Cooks.” [SF Gate]
  • Briones Bedell, the Bay Area teen who called Trader Joe’s out for its racially iffy branding, roasts the grocery chain in a scathing op-ed. “These products are not cultural celebration or representation,” she writes. “They are shells of the cultures that they claim to represent because they rely only on caricatures, not anything of substance or legitimacy.” [SF Chronicle]
  • Gratta’s Market and Winery will soon open in the Bayview with takeout, pantry staples, and their eponymous line of wines. [Hoodline]
  • 40-year-old Palo Alto destination MacArthur Park is shuttering for now, as its owners say that the spot can’t afford to operate until dining is again allowed inside its Julia-Morgan-designed walls. [East Bay Times]
  • Ricky’s, a 74-year-old San Leandro sports bar, is desperately seeking $100,000 in an effort to open for outdoor dining — and, they hope, to make it through the pandemic. [East Bay Times]
  • West Portal candy fans, rejoyce: a resident of the neighborhood has purchased 89-year-old sweets fixture Shaw’s, and will open with Mitchell’s Ice Cream and packaged confections at the end of the month. [Hoodline]
  • If you’re looking for shuttered SF roadway on which to dine this weekend, Valencia and Grant remain the only streets closed to traffic. Some say that the Valencia shutdown is too risky, though, with an alleged lack of social distancing and multiple face covering fails. [Mission Local]. In the Castro, a plan to close 18th Street this weekend was derailed by the San Francisco Fire Department, which is concerned about the ability of its trucks to get through the area. [Bay Area Reporter]