Takeaway customers were warned to be cautious if counterfeit products emerge during the delivery boom
San Francisco residents ordering sushi may have fallen victim to counterfeits after an eatery allegedly took over the names and logos of two restaurants and fulfilled online orders.
The original owner of Blowfish Sushi to Die For in Mission Street said he is considering legal action against the operators of a restaurant using the same name and insignia, even though he owns the trademark.
The restaurant once operated by Jason Teplitsky was forced to close in December after more than 20 years of operation, according to the San Francisco Chronicle
But he was shocked to learn that another eatery began operating from the same location at 2193 Mission Street, fulfilling online orders for sushi with both the original Blowfish name and another Tokyo restaurant, Wagyu Mafia.
“I don’t know what to make of it,” Teplitsky told the Chronicle.
The original owner of Blowfish Sushi to Die For on Mission Street in San Francisco said he is considering legal action against the operators of a restaurant using the same badge, even though he owns the trademark
The restaurant has reopened and the new owners are using the name ‘Blowfish Sushi on Mission’ to sell food on apps such as Doordash, Seamless and GrubHub
Jason Teplitsky, who was forced to close Blowfish Sushi to Die For in December after operating for more than 20 years, said he is considering legal action against the new owners.
‘How does someone decide to do such a thing? Did they think we all had COVID and died? ‘
Teplitsky told the Chronicle that he showed up at his old restaurant on Friday and demanded to speak to whoever operated the reopened eatery, which still had the old Blowfish name and logo above the entrance.
The confrontation became tense when the staff replied that they did not know the owner or the owner’s name.
Dissatisfied with the response, Teplitsky threatened to take a group of people who would stand in front of the restaurant to prevent customers from entering or leaving.
He said the new restaurant would be subjected to “a world of serious law practice.”
Blowfish Sushi employees said Teplitsky raised his voice and scared them.
“He waved his hands frantically,” said one employee, Emily Wing.
‘I was shaking. I was like, ‘Can you please leave? Can you please leave? ‘and he wouldn’t leave. ‘
The police arrived and Teplitsky went home. The restaurant remained open that day.
The restaurant manager, Kevin Chen, said the owner never intended to steal the name of Teplitsky’s restaurant.
Chen said the eatery kept the old name because the signage remained and it was just easier to keep using that name instead of going through the bureaucratic paperwork to register a new name.
“It takes time to do the paperwork and stuff,” Chen said. The eatery is eventually renamed ‘Chome’, which means ‘district’ in Japanese.
Chen said the restaurant could take legal action against Teplitsky if employees feel they are being harassed.
The undated image above shows the inside of the Blowfish Sushi restaurant before it closed in December
Both Chen and Wing said they don’t know who owns it. City documents show a woman named Anna Zhao, although employees say they don’t know who she is.
Chen said the restaurant is owned by a “business” that was not locally based.
Days after Teplitsky confronted the employees, the signage above the restaurant with the name and logo of the old Blowfish Sushi to Die For was painted over.
The restaurant also introduced a new menu with new dishes such as okonomiyaki and lobster tail risotto.
But the old Blowfish Sushi continues to do business with delivery apps such as Seamless, GrubHub and Doordash.
Weeks after Teplitsky had to close his restaurant, the operators of the new eatery registered with the city of San Francisco as Mission Blowfish, Inc. Online, it is known as Blowfish Sushi on Mission.
“It’s not an accident,” said Teplitsky.
Teplitsky said he decided to place an order to get an idea of what the food was like.
“It’s like a sushi buffet – all you can eat,” he said.
“It’s not worthy of the name.”
According to online reviews, the new Blowfish restaurant opened in February.
On Yelp, the company promotes itself as the original, claiming that it was ‘founded in 1998’.
“Legendary sushi spot on Mission with new ownership and a brand new menu concept to impress,” says the description on Yelp.
As of Tuesday, there were only seven reviews on Yelp, with one reviewer claiming to know the previous owner.
‘This is not the original Blowfish Sushi To Die For,’ said one reviewer, ‘L N.’ from San Jose.
The Mission Street location is also the listed address of another sushi restaurant in Asia – Wagyu Mafia
Wagyumafia is the name of a famous Japanese restaurant chain. It warns American diners in San Francisco that anyone who orders online through a listing will be duped
Wagyumafia in Japan posted this image on social media with the DoorDash listing for the ‘location’ in San Francisco, calling it a ‘fake’
The new owner stole the company name and logo and pretended to be the original.
“I know some of the original people who ran Blowfish. Shame on the person who has the guts to reuse the old name and its history as their own. What a fraud!
‘I don’t recommend eating here. You can’t trust what’s in the food when you know they’re so dark. ‘
However, four of the reviewers were glowing.
‘Pretty good taste and nice people. That’s what it takes to become a repeat customer, ‘read a review.
Another reviewer known as ‘Amisha S.’ wrote: ‘One of the better sushi experiences I’ve had in SF … The sushi is best described as fresh in a way that literally melts in your mouth.’
The restaurant posted a menu on DoorDash with some 200 items, including $ 7 for an order of a spicy tuna roll; $ 6 for an order of California roll; $ 14 for Dragon Roll; $ 8 for chicken kara age.
A lobster tempura appetizer would cost $ 20, while a five-piece shrimp tempura would cost $ 12.
The menu also features giant bluefin tuna kama for $ 35.
The Mission Street location is also the listed address of another sushi restaurant in Asia – Wagyu Mafia.
Last month, food writer Tamara Palmer came from 48Hills was looking to order sushi through an app when she came across the name Wagyu Mafia.
Palmer assumed the listing was for a local branch of the famous Tokyo-based brand.
The “ghost kitchen” Palmer ordered offered $ 180 cutlet sandwiches, as well as $ 35 for Wagyu nigiri.
While I enjoyed every bite and am grateful to be able to experiment this way from time to time in the name of science, I found the presentation pale in comparison to how this quality Japanese meat is better processed by chefs around the world. city, ‘she wrote in the review.
The above file photo shows a Wagyumafia restaurant in Japan. The restaurant said it is considering legal action against the operators of the Mission Street location
Palmer then received an email.
“I am contacting on behalf of WAGYUMAFIA to let you know that the WAGYUMAFIA in San Francisco is a fake,” a representative of the Japanese brand wrote to her.
Palmer realized she had been cheated.
‘I know people love stunt food and I know people are going to get crazy stuff, but now? My god, ”she said.
In addition to $ 180 sandwiches, the Wagyu Mafia menu also included $ 100 for an omakase sashimi platter; $ 80 for Wagyu Katsu Sando sandwich; and $ 50 for Wagyu Tataki appetizer.
Wagyumafia currently only has branches in Japan and Hong Kong. A representative for the company told The Chronicle that it had bought a trademark on the name in the United States in 2018.
At the time, it was considering opening a location in San Francisco.
“ While we are flattered with such strong brand recognition in San Francisco, it is very unfortunate that another party is directly benefiting from the Wagyumafia name and its signature dishes, misleading customers, ” Wagyumafia owner Hisato Hamada said in a statement. statement. .
“It was even more disappointing to learn that this is happening more and more at other restaurant companies.”
As of Tuesday, both Blowfish and Waguy Mafia were still offering their services.
Both Teplitsky and Wagyumafia said they will contact the delivery apps and encourage them to deactivate the listings from the Mission Street-based locations.