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Boba Guys Workers Now Say the Company Could Be Illegally Recording Customers and Employees

Plus, a new Napa wine bar from a French Laundry alum and more food news

Boba Guys
Paolo Bicchieri is a reporter at Eater SF writing about Bay Area restaurant and bar trends, coffee and cafes, and pop-ups.

Things are looking more and more bizarre for San Francisco tea drink chain Boba Guys since the late October news that the business was allegedly union-busting at its Mission District location. Now, SFGATE reports the business could be recording audio of both Boba Guys employees and customers at its store. The reason why is unclear, but the outlet spoke with four current and former employees who all said they had no idea they were being recorded. And California is a “two-party consent state,” meaning a $2,500 fine can be levied against those recording others without everyone involved having prior knowledge.

To make matters worse, nowhere in the Boba Guys employee handbook does it mention audio recording in stores. Owners Andrew Chau and Bin Chen did not respond to SFGATE’s request to interview, but the two sent an email to their employees that same afternoon. “A part of our security measures include audio/video recording within our retail stores,” the email reads. “This is a well-established and commonplace practice within the retail and hospitality industries.” SFGATE spoke to Jim Wagstaffe, an attorney who specializes in the First Amendment, who said while cameras are commonplace, audio recording is not. “Do you expect that someone’s going to use a surveillance camera not just to see you walk in, but actually listen to your conversations?” Wagstaffe said.

French Laundry-trained sommelier set to open a new bar in Napa

Aubrey Bailey, who already runs Cadet Wine & Beer Bar in downtown Napa, is starting a new project in a major development at 1500 First Street. The San Francisco Business Times reports Bailey applied for a Type 48 liquor license under Manager Water LLC, which she formed in May. Details are sparse on what the project will look like or when it will debut.

East Bay Indian ice cream pop-up opens permanent location

Koolfi Creamery & Cafe, an “Indian-inspired and California fresh” ice cream pop-up, opened its doors at 599 MacArthur Boulevard in San Leandro on October 20. Berkeleyside reports the married owners, Priti Narayanan and Madhuri “Mads” Angi, have been in the ice cream scene for awhile, dishing up dairy- and coconut-based treats at events for a few years.

Even more handrolls are coming to San Francisco

No, it’s not a new location from Oakland’s Yonsei Handrolls, and no, it’s not an expansion of the Mission District’s Handroll Project. Tablehopper reports the former Saru Sushi Bar’s location in Russian Hill is converting into Saru Handroll Bar and looking at a mid-November opening. Menu details are still incoming, and the original Saru in Noe Valley will remain intact.

East Bay vegan chocolatiers celebrate reopening

The Xocolate Bar, a longtime Mexican American outfit with decadent truffles and bonbons, is finally reopening its store after closing due to COVID — and it’s doing so with a big party. Partially celebrating Dia de Los Muertos, too, Malena Lopez-Maggi’s business will offer free sipping chocolate, arts and crafts, and a chance to win raffle prizes. The festivities commence on October 30 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at 1709 Solano Avenue in Berkeley.

Boba Guys

836 Divisadero Street, , CA 94117 (415) 967-2622 Visit Website

Yonsei Handrolls

1738 Telegraph Avenue, , CA 94612 (510) 588-6924 Visit Website

Saru Sushi Bar

3856 24th Street, , CA 94114 (415) 400-4510 Visit Website

Handroll Project

598 Guerrero Street, , CA 94110 Visit Website