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Bay Area Bubble Tea Shops Face Imminent Boba Shortage

Plus, Bissap Baobab Oakland has closed, for good this time

The U.S. is set to experience a boba shortage
Tiger Sugar/Official

Welcome to p.m. Intel, your bite-sized roundup of Bay Area food and restaurant news. Tips are always welcome, drop them here.


  • Bubble tea fans, be warned — shops in the Bay Area (and the rest of the U.S.) are facing a boba shortage, due to a massive backlog of shipping containers stuck at ports on the West Coast. The backlog is impacting nearly every product that comes from Asia to the U.S., according to MarketWatch, but the boba shortage is the result of “a perfect storm,” Oliver Yoon, vice president of sales for Boba Direct, told Business Insider. That’s because in addition to boba balls stuck at the ports, so are shipments of raw tapioca starch, an essential ingredient for suppliers that make their own boba in the U.S. The industry-wide shortage is already starting to hit Bay Area shops, with Andrew Chau and Bin Chen of Boba Guys warning they may run out at their cafes in the next week, and that they expect availability to be “in flux for several months.” [Marketwatch]
  • The Oakland location of Senegalese nightclub and restaurant Bissap Baobab has closed after 22 years, this time for good, reports Berkeleyside. Owner Marco Senghor first closed Baobab Oakland in 2019 but revived it the following year with a collective of mostly female POC-run food businesses, serving their food alongside the West African specialties Baobab was known for. The restaurant’s last day was March 6, according to Berkeleyside. The space reopened Tuesday, April 13 as Que Rico, a LGBTQ+ and Latinx-focused bar from Valentino Carrillo, the owner of East Oakland’s La Frontera Mexican Restaurant. [Berkeleyside]
  • Reem’s, San Francisco’s only Arab bakery and cafe, is the proud owner of a brand new oven, five months after losing its last oven in a scary explosion. Known for fresh, baked-to-order flatbread, losing the oven largely shut down the bakery’s operations, but a reopening appears imminent. Chef-owner Reem Assil said on Instagram Tuesday that Reem’s is “ready to get back into action,” and to stay tuned for a reopening date and new hours.
  • The founders of Duke’s Spirited Cocktails have announced they’re departing the garden-driven Healdsburg bar, reports Sonoma Magazine, leaving plans for a forthcoming restaurant, Burdock, up in the air. Tara Heffernon, Laura Sanfilippo, Cappy Sorentino, and Steven Maduro made the surprise announcement last week, with Sorentino telling Sonoma that it came down to a simple business disagreement between the partners and founding investor David Ducommon. Ducommon, nicknamed “Duke” and the bar’s namesake, will continue to be involved and is seeking new blood for the bar program. The four founders opened the craft cocktail bar after working together at nearby Spoonbar; no word yet on their next steps. [Sonoma Magazine]
  • As of tomorrow, April 15, all adults in San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, and Santa Clara counties will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, opening up eligibility to millions in the Bay Area. Restaurant workers in San Francisco first became eligible for the vaccine in late February, prompting concerns over the requirement to prove employment. San Francisco residents can visit this website to be notified when it’s their turn to get vaccinated.

Bissap Baobab

3386 19th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110 (415) 826-9287 Visit Website

Duke's Spirited Cocktail Bar

111 Plaza Street , Healdsburg, CA Visit Website

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