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Social Media Fallout Continues Over This Bay Area Bakery’s Controversial Trademark

Plus, San Francisco’s own Dominique Crenn was tapped for a new horror movie and more food news

Third Culture Bakery [Official Photo]
Paolo Bicchieri is a reporter at Eater SF writing about Bay Area restaurant and bar trends, coffee and cafes, and pop-ups.

On Sunday, June 5, the owners of Berkeley’s Third Culture Bakery, Sam Butarbutar and Wentner Shyu, took to their company’s Instagram to air out some feelings about recent reporting by local media. In the post, the husband-and-husband founders share “specifics that were not included in the article,” appearing to refer to a story that ran in the San Francisco Chronicle on June 1 about cease and desist letters sent on behalf of the company to numerous bakeries around the country.

According to the Chronicle story, the couple owns the trademark for the words “mochi muffin” and have been known to reach out to businesses, such as CA Bakehouse, to ensure others don’t sell items with the same name. The post explains the couple’s reasons for protecting Butarbutar’s mochi muffin through legal recourse, and challenges that the two had ever threatened “to shut down a small business,” the post reads. Further, the two say they never sued anyone over the trademark or asked for payments from any individuals.

The couple shares that they’ve “severed ties with all legal representation” and plan to “reevaluate what it means to own such a trademark,” per the post. Since the articles ran last week, everyone from stalwart fans of the pastry to those who have never heard of the dessert item have been witness to this back-and-forth, which has unfolded largely on social media. Those critical of the bakery and its trademark have been leaving negative Yelp reviews and calling the business repeatedly, per the couple’s post, which also implies angry individuals shared Butarbutar and Shyu’s personal information online.

Small fire temporarily closes popular Sacramento Italian restaurant

Ella Dining Room & Bar in downtown Sacramento closed on Saturday due to a hood ventilation fire. The Sacramento Bee reports no one was hurt, though the restaurant sustained damage and is closed until sometime this week.

One of San Francisco’s most famous celeb-chefs consults on new horror film

A farce: Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult are in love, and scamper to a remote island for a feast. That meal, however, ends up being a bit more than they bargained for. SFGate reports that to make sure everything was correct for Mark Mylod’s new movie “The Menu,” the team hired Dominique Crenn, the San Francisco chef behind Michelin-starred restaurants Atelier Crenn and Petit Crenn, as “chief technical consultant.”

These California cities might keep their bars open until 4 a.m.

On Friday, California State Senator Scott Wiener introduced legislation that would permit some California cities to let patrons keep drinking until 4 a.m. According to KRON4, the cities on the list are San Francisco, Oakland, West Hollywood, Fresno, Palm Springs, Cathedral City, and Coachella. In 2019, the bill failed to get through the state assembly.

Berkeley co-op program coordinator reflects on food and culture

Evangeline Canonizado Buell’s memoir Twenty-Five Chickens and a Pig for a Bride is a book about many things, but, as Buell spent her life playing guitar, editing books on Filipino culture, and coordinator for the Berkeley Co-op, it’s also a book on cultures mingling. East Bay Yesterday writes that Buell remembers her “Black, Portuguese, Mexican, Greek and Japanese neighbors” bonding over “adobo, linguisa, tamales, blues, and jazz.”