San Francisco residents ordering sushi deliveries may have fallen victim to fakes after an eatery allegedly took the names and logos of two restaurants and fulfilled orders online.
The original owner of Blowfish Sushi to Die For on Mission Street said he is considering legal action against the operators of a restaurant that is using the same name and insignia even though he owns the trademark.
The restaurant once operated by Jason Teplitsky was forced to shut down in December after more than 20 years in operation, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
But he was shocked to learn that another eatery began operating out of the same location at 2193 Mission Street and was fulfilling orders online for sushi using both the original Blowfish name as well as another Tokyo-based restaurant, Wagyu Mafia.
‘I don’t know what to think,’ 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 that is using the same insignia even though he owns the trademark
The restaurant has reopened with the new owners using the name ‘Blowfish Sushi on Mission’ to sell food on apps like Doordash, Seamless, and GrubHub
Jason Teplitsky, who was forced to shut down Blowfish Sushi to Die For in December after more than 20 years in operation, said he is considering legal action against the new owners
‘How does someone decide to do something like this? Did they think we all got COVID and died?’
Teplitsky told the Chronicle that on Friday he showed up at his old restaurant and demanded to speak to whoever was operating the reopened eatery, which still had the old Blowfish name and logo above the entrance.
The confrontation grew tense as staffers replied that they didn’t know the owner or the owner’s name.
Dissatisfied with the response, Teplitsky threatened to bring a group of people who would stand outside the restaurant door in order to prevent customers from getting in or out.
He said the new restaurant was going to be subjected to ‘a world of serious lawyership.’
Employees at Blowfish Sushi said that Teplitsky raised his voice and scared them.
‘He was waving his hands frantically,’ said one employee, Emily Wing.
‘I was shaking. I was just like, ‘Can you please leave? Can you please leave?’ and he wouldn’t leave.’
Police arrived on the scene and Teplitsky went home. The restaurant continued operating that day.
The restaurant manager, Kevin Chen, said that it was never the intention of the owner to steal the name of Teplitsky’s restaurant.
Chen said that the eatery kept the old name because the signage remained and it was just easier to keep using that name rather than go through the bureaucratic paperwork of registering a new name.
‘It takes time to do the paperwork and everything,’ Chen said. The eatery will eventually be renamed ‘Chome,’ which means ‘district’ in Japanese.
Chen said the restaurant may take legal action against Teplitsky if employees feel like they are being harassed.
The undated image above shows the inside of the Blowfish Sushi restaurant before it was forced to shut down in December
Both Chen and Wing said they don’t know who the owner is. City documents list a woman named Anna Zhao, though the employees say they do not know who that is.
Chen said the restaurant is owned by a ‘corporation’ that was not based locally.
Days after Teplitsky confronted the employees, the signage above the restaurant bearing the name and logo of the old Blowfish Sushi to Die For was painted over.
The restaurant also introduced a new menu that included new dishes like okonomiyaki and lobster tail-topped risotto.
But the old Blowfish Sushi continues to do business on delivery apps like Seamless, GrubHub, and Doordash.
Weeks after Teplitsky was forced to shut down 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 some sort of accident,’ Teplitsky said.
Teplitsky said that he decided to place an order just to get a sense of what the food was like.
‘It’s similar to sushi buffet — all you can eat,’ he said.
‘It’s not worthy of the name.’
According to online reviews, the new Blowfish restaurant began operating in February.
On Yelp, the business promotes itself as the original, claiming that it was ‘established in 1998.’
‘Legendary sushi spot on Mission with new ownership and brand new menu concept to impress,’ according to the description on Yelp.
As of Tuesday, there were only seven reviews posted on Yelp, with one reviewers claiming to know the previous owner.
‘This is not the original Blowfish Sushi To Die For,’ according to one reviewer, ‘L N.’ from San Jose.
The Mission Street location is also the listed address of another sushi restaurant based in Asia – Wagyu Mafia
Wagyumafia is the name of a famous Japanese chain of restaurants. It is warning American diners in San Francisco that anyone ordering from a listing online is being duped
Wagyumafia in Japan posted this image on social media showing the DoorDash listing for the San Francisco ‘location’ and calling it a ‘fake’
‘New owner stole the business name and logo and repurposed to pretend to be the original.
‘I know some of the original people who ran Blowfish. Shame on the person who has the audacity to reuse the former name and its history as their own. What a fraud!
‘I do not recommend eating here. You cannot trust what’s in the food after knowing they are shady like that.’
Four of the reviewers, however, were glowing.
‘Pretty good flavor and nice people. That’s what it takes for me to become a return customer,’ read one review.
Another reviewer known as ‘Amisha S.’ wrote: ‘One of the better sushi experiences I’ve had in SF…The sushi can best be described as fresh in a way that literally melts in your mouth.’
The restaurant posted a menu on DoorDash which includes some 200 items, including $7 for an order of spicy tuna roll; $6 for an order of California roll; $14 for dragon roll; $8 for chicken kara-age.
An appetizer of lobster tempura would set diners back $20 while a five-piece set of shrimp tempura goes for $12.
The menu also offers giant bluefin tuna kama for $35.
The Mission Street location is also the listed address of another sushi restaurant based in Asia – Wagyu Mafia.
Last month, food writer Tamara Palmer of 48Hills was looking to order sushi on an app when she came across the Wagyu Mafia name.
Palmer assumed that the listing was for a local branch of the famous Tokyo-based brand.
The ‘ghost kitchen’ that Palmer ordered from offered $180 cutlet sandwiches as well as $35 for Wagyu nigiri.
‘Although I enjoyed savoring every bite and have gratitude to be able to experiment like this from time to time in the name of science, I found that the presentation paled in comparison to how this quality Japanese beef is more competently handled by chefs all over the 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’m getting in touch on behalf of WAGYUMAFIA to let you know that the WAGYUMAFIA in San Francisco is a fake,’ a representative from the Japanese brand wrote to her.
Palmer realized she had been duped.
‘I know people love stunt food and I know people will splash out for crazy items, but right now? My god,’ she said.
Besides $180 sandwiches, the Wagyu Mafia menu also included $100 for a omakase sashimi platter; $80 for wagyu katsu sando sandwich; and $50 for wagyu tataki appetizer.
Wagyumafia currently has locations only in Japan and Hong Kong. A representative from the company told the Chronicle that it bought a trademark to the name in the United States in 2018.
At the time, it was considering opening a location in San Francisco.
‘While we are flattered to have such strong brand recognition in San Francisco, it is very unfortunate that another party is profiting directly off of the Wagyumafia name and its signature dishes, deceiving customers in the process,’ Wagyumafia owner Hisato Hamada said in a statement.
‘It was even more disappointing to learn this is becoming a common occurrence for other restaurant businesses.’
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 of the Mission Street-based locations.