Everybody knows how much Chinese people like their food, and nowhere is this any more true in the United States than in Los Angeles. While there really weren't Chinese bakery riots in Los Angeles, we did come close with the opening and then spread of the Taiwanese 85°C Bakery and Cafe chain as it rolled out throughout the Los Angeles area. When they had their sole store in Irvine, CA, it would not be unusual to spend an hour waiting in line to get inside the bakery and make your purchases, and as the first branches opened up, opening day waits were two hours, and one could imagine some people became testy while waiting in line. However, there are many branches of 85°C in the Los Angeles area these days, so the days of Chinese bakery conflict in Los Angeles seemed to be a thing in the past.
Until this weekend, at Atlantic Times Square in Monterey Park. Atlantic Times Square was conceived of nearly a decade ago as an attempt to bring a mainstream block long shopping center housing national brands to Monterey Park, the original "Chinese Beverly Hills" marketed overseas in the 1980s. As things have turned out in the past couple years in the retail industry in general, and shopping malls in particular, that attempt was equivalent to trying to jump onto the Titanic before it set sail. Fortunately, the attempt to attract mainstream tenants pretty much failed, except for Johnny Rocket's (since closed), the AMC theaters, and perhaps a couple of other places. This left Atlantic Times Square to the Asian business community, which in the end turns out to be the best thing that could happen to that center
This past weekend Sunmerry, a small Chinese bakery chain, like 85°C originating out or Irvine, opened up a store in Monterey Park, offering Grand Opening specials. According to eyewitness reports, it was a near riot. One account said "I was in a crowded, angry line for an hour and a half!! And that's not because there was a bunch of people in front of me. I was 4th in line for the most part. There was just no products coming out...Some older ladies were even starting to argue about their place in line...The only organizational part I appreciated was when the new batch came out. They realized that an angry mob would have started if they placed the items on the shelves, so they took each tray and offered a piece to each person down the line to make it fair. I was glad because I really didn't want to end up arrested for assault over bread."
Another report said "Waited for over 45 minutes in the hot sun! At last got to the entrance then waited another 15 minutes before the manager let a crowd of customers including myself to go get the bread. However, there just isn't enough bread for the batch of customers that they allowed in, By the time it's my turn, there are basically nothing! I asked the manager to let me wait until next round of bread to come out, he said "No, you have to go back outside all the way to the last in line again" WTF?? I waited over an hour for you to tell me to go back out to the hot sun waiting in line again when you didn't bring out enough for the customers?? F*** this!"
And then there was "I got a tray and went straight to chocolate croissants and I was surrounded by crazy people." Nothing like specials to bring out the crazy in Chinese shoppers!