Openings and Closings

Third Culture Bakery Is Moving Out of Colorado

Sam Butarbutar (left) and Wenter Shyu are leaving Colorado and refocusing on Third Culture's West Coast operations.
Sam Butarbutar (left) and Wenter Shyu are leaving Colorado and refocusing on Third Culture's West Coast operations. Mark Antonation
Third Culture Bakery, which brought its mochi doughnuts and muffins to metro Denver last year, is shutting down its Colorado stores and will be refocusing on its West Coast operations in 2022.

The brand got its start in Berkeley, California, in 2017. In January 2019, it signed a lease for a location at 9935 East Colfax Avenue in Aurora, with support from the City of Aurora's Restaurant Assistance Program. The buildout took a year, and the bakery opened its doors on February 9, 2020 — just over a month before COVID-19 led to a shutdown of indoor dining.

Despite the challenges of operating during a pandemic, Third Culture's chewy, springy, mochi-based baked goods proved popular, and a second matcha cafe and showroom opened at 2500 Lawrence Street in April 2021. Faced with staffing difficulties at that location, though, Third Culture recently closed those doors, and soon the Aurora outpost will meet the same fate. Its last day of business will be December 31, when it will be giving out free pastries and champagne as a thank-you to Colorado customers from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (advance registration for the event is required).
click to enlarge Third Culture Bakery is known for its mochi doughnuts and muffins. - MARK ANTONATION
Third Culture Bakery is known for its mochi doughnuts and muffins.
Mark Antonation
“We are so grateful to our Colorado communities and guests for their support,” Wenter Shyu, co-owner and brand director of Third Culture Bakery, says in a statement about the closures. “But we are facing unprecedented challenges related to the pandemic that make it impossible for us to stay open here.”

Staffing shortages are a key factor in the decision, as are supply-chain issues that have led to increased prices for goods and made it difficult to source some ingredients.

“When we signed our lease in Aurora, we gave ourselves five years to figure out whether we could grow our business in a brand-new market,” Shyu notes. “Things were going extremely well during our first month of business in Colorado, but then a worldwide pandemic began and changed everything.”

Fans of the bakery's products can still order online; nationwide shipping is available. And since Third Culture debuted in metro Denver, several other mochi doughnut shops have popped up in the area, including Dochi, at 2449 Larimer Street; Jada's Mochi Donuts, which offers delivery and pick-up in southeast Aurora; and Mochinut, which recently opened at 2222 South Havana Street in Aurora. 
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Molly Martin is the Westword Food & Drink editor. She’s been writing about the dining scene in Denver since 2013, and was eating her way around the city long before that. She enjoys long walks to the nearest burrito joint and nights spent sipping cocktails on Colfax.
Contact: Molly Martin