He demanded to speak to whoever was claiming to own this new Blowfish Sushi, with the lapp name, same logo and in the lapp location as his close restaurant. The confrontation heated up debauched. The staff said they didn ’ metric ton know where the owner was, nor the owner ’ second name. Teplitsky didn ’ t buy it. A big russian guy with a boom voice, Teplitsky threatened to have a group of people stand outside the restaurant ’ s door to prevent anyone from going in and out — to shut it down by any means necessity. He warned of “ a world of good lawyership. ”
The bicker ended with the police arriving. Teplitsky went home, and the business calling itself blowfish Sushi kept fulfilling rescue orders .
What at first might seem like a simple trademark quarrel is one separate of a bigger mystery, about how a clientele placement appears to be impersonating a match of early japanese restaurants : puffer Sushi to Die For, Teplitsky ’ s eclectic but shuttered sushi restaurant, and Wagyumafia, a Tokyo spot celebrated for its $ 180 Wagyu sandwich. Some diners have publicly thought they were ordering from the originals ; one woman posted a Yelp review in February for the close Blowfish saying it ’ s actually still open .
Yet it ’ s not clear who ’ s behind these alleged fakes : City records show that Anna Zhao filed permits for the clientele, but employees have said they don ’ t know who that is. Since Friday ’ sulfur confrontation, the staffers have painted over the Blowfish logo, even the new eateries continue to advertise on food manner of speaking apps. Teplitsky and Wagyumafia say they are considering legal natural process .
At a fourth dimension when most diners aren ’ thyroxine going to restaurants in person, the confusion highlights what can happen with the proliferation of manner of speaking apps and ghost kitchens : Businesses making your food aren ’ t necessarily who they say they are .
The modern operators at 2193 Mission St. first gained media attention at the end of March, when San Francisco food writer Tamara Palmer was hunting for newly restaurants on food app Seamless and discovered a list for SF Wagyu Mafia. Palmer, who has written for The Chronicle, assumed this was a new, little sleep together San Francisco branch of the celebrated restaurant in Japan, which had been plotting an frontier settlement here a few years ago. She ordered one of its cheapest items, four pieces of Wagyu sushi, for $ 35 .
“ It wasn ’ t even a well-constructed firearm of sushi, ” Palmer said. “ But it did taste good. ”
She didn ’ triiodothyronine think much more of it, posting a photograph of her meal on-line and writing an detail for her 48 Hills food column. But the adjacent good morning, she woke up embroiled in what she called “ external kernel drama. ”
“ I ’ thousand getting in touch on behalf of WAGYUMAFIA to let you know that the WAGYUMAFIA in San Francisco is a bogus, ” read an e-mail from a congressman of the Japan business .
Palmer was chagrined that she ’ d obviously fallen for a fudge restaurant. She besides wanted her money back, stunned a business would tout a “ celebrated wagyu sandwich ” for $ 180 with apparently no connection to the real number thing .
“ I know people love stunt food and I know people will splash out for brainsick items, but correct now ? My god, ” she said .
The SF Wagyu Mafia location was the lapp as that advertised for the business calling itself Blowfish. Delivery apps list both operating out of 2193 Mission St., where Teplitsky ’ s Blowfish Sushi to Die For had been. He was crushed when he permanently closed it in December, ineffective to make takeout and delivery work during the pandemic .
then, he was shocked when he learned there were active voice manner of speaking listings for Blowfish Sushi on DoorDash, Grubhub and Postmates. The newly business used the master Blowfish ’ randomness logo, and its Yelp page describes it as a “ legendary sushi spotlight ” established in 1998 .
“ I don ’ thyroxine know what to think, ” he said. “ How does person decide to do something like this ? Did they think we all got COVID and died ? ”
The new Blowfish started serving customers in February, according to on-line reviews. Its menu is far more across-the-board than the old Blowfish, with more than 200 items, at least four times arsenic much as puffer Sushi to Die For ’ randomness menu out of the same, little quad .
It would be one matter, Teplitsky said, if new owners came into his former distance and couldn ’ thyroxine change signage correct away. But in January, the raw operation registered with the city of San Francisco as Mission Blowfish Inc., doing clientele as Blowfish Sushi on Mission, fair a few weeks after the original Blowfish moved out .
“ It ’ s not some sort of accident, ” Teplitsky believes.
Amy Osborne / Special to The history
last Thursday night, Teplitsky decided to place a delivery club, just to see what it was like. He was not affect .
“ It ’ s similar to sushi snack bar — all you can eat, ” he said. “ It ’ s not desirable of the name. ”
He decided to wait for Blowfish Sushi to open for dinner Friday night to pay a visit. His colleague had already tried to get the restaurant to stop using the blowfish appoint multiple times without success ; Teplitsky didn ’ thyroxine have much solitaire when an employee told him she didn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate know who the owner was or when they ’ d be back. He blew up, he said. He yelled. He swore. Some employees at Blowfish Sushi said he ’ five hundred scared them .
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“ He was waving his hands madly, ” said Emily Wing, who said she just started working at the fresh Blowfish Sushi. “ I was shaking. I was barely like, ‘ Can you please leave ? Can you please leave ? ’ and he wouldn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate leave. ”
Manager Kevin Chen said the enlargement over the name Blowfish Sushi has been confusing, but said he has “ no estimate what ’ mho going on. ” He said the owners never intended to steal the identity of the earlier restaurant. Because it had left its signage behind, it barely seemed simplest to use it .
“ It takes time to do the paperwork and everything, ” he said, adding that in fact the restaurant plans to change its name to Chome, which means “ district ” in japanese, and function as an izakaya-style restaurant, besides serving ramen. By Sunday evening, an awning advertising Blowfish Sushi had been removed, the crimson puffer logo had been covered with black key, and the restaurant debuted a different menu with dishes like okonomiyaki and lobster tail-topped risotto .
Serena Dai / The history
Chen said the restaurant is considering legal carry through against Teplistky if employees feel as though they ’ re being harassed .
multiple employees who spoke with The Chronicle declined to name the owner, offering entirely a pair of first gear names. Chen and Wing said they don ’ t know who Anna Zhao, the person named on permits, is. Chen would only say the owner is “ a pot, ” and not local anesthetic. The name filed with the city, Mission Blowfish Inc., does not yield any filings with the state .
Employees besides would not answer questions about SF Wagyu Mafia, saying they didn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate know anything about it. It was a pop fly possibly, Chen said, but no long operating .
Wagyumafia, which has locations only in Japan and Hong Kong, is mulling legal action against SF Wagyu Mafia for hallmark misdemeanor, said Liz Choi, a spokesperson from the restaurant. Wagyumafia bought a brand to the name in the U.S. in 2018, when it was planning a San Francisco placement .
“ While we are flattered to have such strong mark realization in San Francisco, it is very unfortunate that another party is profiting directly off of the Wagyumafia identify and its touch dishes, deceiving customers in the action, ” Wagyumafia chef and owner Hisato Hamada said in a statement. “ It was even more disappoint to learn this is becoming a common happening for other restaurant businesses. ”
Wagyumafia and Teplitsky both said they plan to contact delivery companies in the hope of deactivating the SF Wagyu Mafia and Blowfish Sushi pages. As of Monday good afternoon, though, they were all still active.
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“ If people are going to continue to use the apps and they ’ re thinking they ’ re supporting a humble clientele, it ’ s worth a copulate of Google searches to make certain you ’ re getting what you think you ’ rhenium getting, ” food writer Palmer said. “ It ’ s getting sketchier out there. ”
Janelle Bitker is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. electronic mail : janelle.bitker @ sfchronicle.com chirrup : @ janellebitker