Famous Coffee Crunch Cake Bakery Celebrates 50 Years in Japantown

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Written By Angela Angela






A Japanese-American bakery in San Francisco, known for its famous coffee crunch cake, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The current owner is carrying on his grandfather’s legacy.

As his grandson crushes a tray of candy coating, Moses Yasukochi can’t resist sneaking a piece of the dessert he baked for years.

“Somehow, I lasted 50 years!” Yasukochi smiled.

Moses, a San Francisco native, opened Yasukochi’s Sweet Stop in December 1974. It was his childhood dream.

“I’m happy,” he said.

Now 87, he remembers how he couldn’t refuse when friends offered him a space for a bakery inside a grocery store.

“When I was younger, I always said, ‘I want to open a bakery in Japantown,’ because there was no bakery in Japantown,” Yasukochi said.

He became famous for his unique take on the coffee crunch cake, originally made by the old Blum’s bakery on Union Square. A glowing newspaper review changed everything.

“It really took off, and my business has grown ever since,” he said.

The publicity boosted demand for the coffee crunch cake from locals and visitors nationwide.

Yasukochi’s wife, Hatsy, helped decorate the cakes, and her smile became the bakery’s face. Sadly, Hatsy passed away in 2020 after contracting COVID.

“She was great with the customers. I was the grumpy guy in the back making stuff,” he chuckled.

Due to health issues, Yasukochi is now retired, the bakery’s hours have been reduced, and his grandson, Kenji Yick, a French Culinary Institute graduate, runs the shop.

“Grandpa’s kids didn’t want to take over, so we skipped a generation,” he smiled.

The city has recognized the bakery as a Legacy Business. Yick believes keeping it open is good for both the family and Japantown.

“We’ve lost a lot of old businesses around here. It’s nice to know at least one of them will stay,” said Yick.

Yick’s efforts are paying off. The Sweet Stop is a semi-finalist for a 2023 James Beard Award, a prestigious culinary honor.

Despite the bakery’s continued success, Kenji admits he can’t eat the famous cake anymore.

“After fifteen years of having it at every birthday, you get tired of it. Now, I only taste it to make sure it’s right,” Yick laughed.

For him, the best part is making people happy.

“I love giving people the cake and seeing their excitement. It’s for a big birthday party, or they remember their grandma eating it,” Yick explained.

With his grandfather cheering from the sidelines, Yick keeps the family tradition alive, celebrating fifty years of Yasukochi’s Sweet Stop.

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