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It Only Took Seven Months For Third Culture Bakery to Close Its Valencia Street Location

Co-owner Wenter Shyu says the shop was often broken into and staff no longer wanted to work at the brand-new location

An array of colorful mochi doughnuts from Third Culture Bakery Third Culture Bakery
Paolo Bicchieri is a reporter at Eater SF writing about Bay Area restaurant and bar trends, coffee and cafes, and pop-ups.

Third Culture Bakery has shut down its seven-month-old Valencia Street cafe and sweets shop effective immediately on March 2. Co-owner Wenter Shyu says the difficulties of maintaining the shop were simply not worth the money and all staff are being transferred to other locations.

The short lifespan of the 1186 Valencia Street location was much harder than Shyu, his co-owner and husband Sam Butarbutar, or any of his staff could’ve anticipated. Twice a month, Shyu says, people would come in and steal items while staff helped other customers, taking shirts, sweaters, and other merchandise off the shelves before running out. Throughout the day staff would call the owners to report “really unsavory incidents,” Shyu says, including people urinating in front of the doorway and on the windows, not to mention the human feces staff were forced to clear on a regular basis. “It’s not fair to expect our team to have to put up with stuff like this on a daily basis,” Shyu says.

The owners made the decision to close the location and move all staff to other locations. Employees are being offered travel credits to accommodate any new commute routes. The company just opened its new Inner Sunset shop on Irving Street, and so far that space is well-trafficked — and poop-free. “Landlord was no help,” Shyu adds of Valencia Street. “And actually responded to our emails to remind us of a rent increase. So there’s that too.”

It’s not been the most chill year for the Berkeley-born Third Culture Bakery. Shyu and Butarbutar made it clear they would cease litigation against competitors making mochi muffins after it came to light the company held a trademark for the phrase “mochi muffin”. But the issues Shyu raises over the Valencia Street location are much the popular topics of debate in San Francisco: public safety, small business revitalization, exorbitant rent costs, and mental health concerns for those experiencing homelessness to name just a few.

Third Culture’s flagship showroom in Berkeley and the Walnut Creek cafe remain open, in addition to the Irving Street cafe and numerous other shops that carry the bakery’s mochi muffins.

Correction: March 3, 2023, 10:51 a.m. This article was corrected to reflect that Third Culture’s Valencia Street location opened in July 2022.

Third Culture Bakery

2701 Eighth Street, , CA 94710 (415) 735-6699 Visit Website