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San Francisco

City Hits 'Sweet Inspiration Bakery Café' With Formula Retail Violation For 2nd Time

For the second time in two years, the Planning Department has notified the owners of Sweet Inspiration Bakery Café that the eatery is violating the city's formula retail rules.

The space reopened earlier this month under new ownership when chef Ryan Scott and Ike Shehadeh of Ike's Place—a sandwich chain with 35 locations— took over the café from Michael Colter.

Chef Ryan Scott (left) and Ike Shehadeh (center) with mayoral candidate Mark Leno. | Photo: Sweet INSPIRATION/Instagram

According to a notice issued on January 22nd, the restaurant at 2239 Market St. is operating Ike's Place as a formula retail business. In the Upper Market area, stores that have more than 11 locations must first obtain a conditional use permit.

In 2016, after Sweet Inspiration added Ike's-branded sandwiches to its menu, the Planning Department took action for the same violation. The latest complaint appears to be part of the same investigation.

Among the earlier violations, Planning found Ike's Place sandwiches offered via a separate menu, window façades with Ike's branding, along with bags and other products that used Ike’s trademark.

The solution at the time was to change the name to 'Sweet Inspiration's ft. Mike's Place' and use recipes similar to Shehadeh's chain without the same names.

In August 2016, a Planning Department representative told Hoodline the location was in compliance, and the department closed its enforcement case two months later.

Sandwich menu at Sweet Inspiration. | Photo: Steven Bracco/Hoodline

In December 2017, however, Planning reopened the matter after it "received information that Mike's Place was operating from Sweet Inspiration Bakery selling Ike's Place menu items."

On January 12th, the café held a $2 burger promotion offered in connection with chef Ryan Scott and Ike's Place. According to the notice, "it was necessary to "follow' Ike's place on Insta (@SweetsSF) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/SweetsSF) in order to redeem this promotion."

That day, Planning staff made a site visit and observed that Ike's Place menu items were being served and employees "wore uniform apparel displaying the Ike's Place standardized trademark."

When contacted for comment, Scott said neither of the café's partners nor the landlord had received a copy of the recent complaint.

"Mike's Place has been operating selling Ike's recipes for over a year, this is old news and is approved by the city," he said.

When asked about Ike's Place T-shirts and the branded menu items that were offered for sale, Scott said, "we took a core of Ike's best-selling sandwiches and put them at the bottom of the menu."

Vegan 'OMG Ryan Scott Sandwich' served at Sweet Inspiration. | Photo: Instagram

He added that several menu items were renamed, but at least six sandwiches shared names with items at Ike's Place.

With regard to staff apparel, "we're sitting on Ike's T-shirts and my employees need to have continuity, so I'm going to use them," Scott said.

Removing Ike's Place sandwiches from the menu didn't make sense to Scott. "Ike [Shehadeh] made a living off these sandwiches, and it would be a shame to take them away from the neighborhood."

With regards to the Planning Department's notice of violation, "I have no fear when it comes to that and all those issues have been addressed," said Scott.

Sweet Inspiration Bakery Café has until February 6th to correct the violation or appeal the notice. Failure to take corrective action could result in penalties, including a fine that tops out at $250/day.

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