HomeJapanese AmericanJapantown's longtime mochi bakery may shut down in SF

Japantown’s longtime mochi bakery may shut down in SF

A bakery that has a 115 year history in San Francisco which featured more than a dozen different mochis may be closing its doors soon.

KQED reports Benkyodo, the oldest business in Japantown, is another victim of the coronavirus.

“The pandemic was hard for us,” Bobby Okamura says. “We had to close for two and a half months.”

Brothers Bobby and Rick Okamura hand make and shape more than 1,000 balls a day. The pair took over the shop from their grandfather and have been doing it for 30 years, despite being in their 70’s.

The pair plan to retire and will either shut the store down or sell it.

SF Gate reports that in 2006, then Assemblyman Mark Leno chose Benkyodo for the California Small Business of the Year award in 2008.

This reporter had a chance to visit the small bakery for breakfast shortly before the pandemic. I sat on the long counter, the only place where you can set sit down service ab Benkyodo. The wide variety of flavors are simultaneously overwhelming and impressive.

It’s a must visit for anyone in San Francisco.

“Mochi is very important to the community,” explains Alice Kawahatsu, a tour guide who has been bringing customers there for ten years. “It plays an essential role in several holidays, especially New Year’s. And it’s the perfect gift when visiting someone’s home,” she told KQED.

The brothers would prefer to sell the business to another family member.

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