AA Bakery has been a local destination in San Francisco Chinatown. The business is family owned and operated by both husband and wife, Henry and Collen Chan. They both speak limited English and had limited technology access. They did not even have email addresses for either personal and business until we reached out to them and offered technical assistance. This business has been serving the community since 1997, serving traditional Chinese pastries and cakes for all occasions. AA Bakery also operates as a café that many local Chinese immigrants congregate to enjoy their pastries, sip on a cup of hot coffee or tea, read the daily newspaper, and is a meeting place to socialize with their friends and family. This bakery has always been a favorite among locals and tourists who come in and out of the bakery in search of a variety of savory and sweet foods, catering to all generations.
During the pandemic, the business suffered tremendously like many other small businesses in Chinatown. Business dropped more than 80%. Struggling to stay afloat and having the fear of not knowing if or when they would have to close their doors for good, Henry resorted to layoffs and shorter hours, to compensate for the loss of income.
During Chinese New Year, BeChinatown helped AA Bakery apply for a pop-up that was sponsored by the Ferry Building, along the Embarcadero area in the city. They were given the opportunity to present their culinary goodies for four weekends, allowing them to sell their products outside the gates of Chinatown. Henry, the owner, presented his colorful cakes, cookies, savory breads, and cream filled pastries. This was also an opportunity for a local Chinatown business to introduce our culture to another community in San Francisco, hoping to attract more people to support the small businesses in Chinatown which was desperately needed to survive the pandemic. This new opportunity was also accompanied by fear, not knowing if the products would sell and if the customers would appreciate the new products that were being introduced. At the end of it all…. CUSTOMERSLOVED IT!!
Through this experience, AA Bakery got more publicity. People tweeted about them and received good online and local newspaper reviews. They also noticed their sales had increased from that opportunity. The business was able to hire back some of their previous employees that were laid off and could operate longer hours. Now Henry and Collen Chan feel more confident that their business will continue to improve, be able to navigate through this pandemic, and continue to serve its customers with its large variety of both savory and sweet pastries.
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