As a business, when you have a product that creates a line out the door, you pretty much know you’ve made it. This essentially proves that what you’re offering is worth both a consumer’s money and time. And that’s exactly what Sam Butarbutar and Wenter Shyu have achieved in their business Third Culture Bakery, with two locations—one in Berkeley, California and the second in Aurora, Colorado.
In this week’s episode, we talk with Sam about the story behind the bakery, their commitment to quality, and how the mochi muffin came to be.
We also spoke with Yelp reviewer Cherie C. about both of her reviews of Third Culture Bakery—the first from when they first opened. Cherie describes herself as someone who “doesn’t wait in lines.” So when she heard about the new bakery in town and its wrap-around-the-building crowd, she rolled her eyes, insisting to her husband that they wait to check it out until after the hype had dissolved. But when a friend shared that it was an absolute must-have-now, she gave in and soon found herself amongst those in line—and as you’ll hear, it was not only worth it then, but it brought her back time and time again.
Third Culture Bakery represents, in Sam’s words, “someone who grew up in a culture that’s different from their parents.” He and Wenter wanted to create a bakery that melds cultures—in their case, Asian and American. But they didn’t want to create a bakery that was strictly for people who are familiar with those flavors. They wanted to be the “bridge between two groups of people.”
The duo built their bakery from the ground up; the recipes, the brand, the design. Their goal was to ensure all aspects for their business matched in quality and consistency, from their marketing efforts to the flavor of each menu item.
“If you have a story, your product has to match up with it and be at the same level, otherwise people are just going to be like, ‘Yeah, it’s a good story, but the product is not as good.’ We wanted to make sure that our story and our product were equal and high-level,” said Sam.
In addition to learning from Sam and Wenter’s baking and business passions, here are a few other key takeaways from the episode:
- Don’t lose sight of your purpose, even and especially during the pandemic. For the bakery, the experience inside the store is such an impactful part of their business. To ensure that feeling wasn’t lost when they moved to curbside pickup, they focused on person-to-person interactions, whether over the phone or safely over the counter.
- Environmentally conscious choices can attract more values-based customers. Third Culture Bakery prioritizes sustainability and environmentally friendly products, which appeals to a big constituent of people who want their spending to reflect their personal values. If you appeal to values, you’re more likely to create a loyal customer base.
- Read reviews, and evaluate if something needs fixing. All negative reviews sting, but it’s important to think about how they can actually help you improve your business. Sam and Wenter read reviews with a critical eye, making sure that if there are red flags around service, safety or the product itself, they adjust accordingly.
Interviews by Emily Washcovick; photos from Third Culture Bakery
These lessons come from an episode of Behind the Review, Yelp & Entrepreneur Media’s weekly podcast. Listen below to hear from Sam and Cherie, or visit the episode page to read more, subscribe to the show, and explore other episodes.
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