So fresh, it’s still piping hot.
That’s the promise of 85°C Bakery Cafe, which recently opened its first outpost in Sacramento in the Shun Fat Supermarket plaza on 65th Street.
On Monday, dozens of people scrambled to scoop up bread into their trays, just as it came out of the oven. Every few minutes, shift leader Daniel Valderrama yelled his signature line – “Fresh bread!” – to alert patrons of yet another batch of steaming hot buns.
The popular bakery chain, nicknamed the “Starbucks of Taiwan,” will officially celebrate the grand opening of the Sacramento store on July 14, but word has already gotten out to the community about the soft opening. In the first few days, the 3,200-square-foot cafe has seen roughly 1,000 customers buying nearly 3,000 pieces of bread daily, according to George Agosto, Northern California manager.
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“We had a huge demand from Sacramento residents,” Agosto said, when asked why the company decided to expand to the capital. “They were already traveling to our stores in Berkeley and San Jose.”
Sacramento-area customers are rewarding the company, whose U.S. franchise is based in Southern California. The average receipt of $16 has been higher than the typical $13 tab for Bay Area locations, Agosto said. The 85°C chain was founded in 2004 in Taiwan, later branching out to countries like China and Australia.
The U.S. saw its first store in 2008 in Irvine. Globally, 85°C will celebrate 1,000 locations on Friday, with the opening of a branch in Houston.
The store’s hot and fresh approach has garnered a cult-like following among Asian palates. That was seen during the soft opening in Sacramento Monday afternoon, as clerks visibly struggled to keep up with demand from customers wielding trays and tongs. A line wrapped around inside with families waiting to pay at the counter. Outside was another line, with 20 people waiting to be let into the store.
Sacramento’s 85°C receives a daily shipment of frozen dough for breads, cakes and other supplies from a central kitchen in Newark, with a truck arriving at 6 a.m. Employees then dress, glaze and bake the goods in-house, around the clock for 12 hours. The chain touts 60 varieties of breads and 40 types of cakes. With such a broad menu, management faces the challenge of anticipating demand, since some flavors are more popular than others.
“It’s so unpredictable,” Agosto said, noting that on some days certain breads – like the popular “marble taro” – may sell out. “That’s the joy of our job: tracking the flavors.”
Diana Lee, a restaurant manager in Roseville, bought $50 worth of bread Monday, stacked on two trays. Having visited 85°C in the Bay Area, Lee was scouting for her old favorites, but some were already sold out.
“This will only last us a day,” Lee said, showing off her haul. “I’ll probably be back here at 8 a.m. tomorrow.”