Cortland’s Sandbox Bakery Sold to Pinkie’s from SOMA

sandboxpinkies

In Japanese literature and art, the concept of  mono no aware (物の哀れ) is often central to the creative aesthetic. Mono no aware is a difficult idea to describe, but basically it represents an intimate emotional awareness of the inherent transience and impermanence of all things. So with apologies for this confessional moment, your Bernalwood editor is today struggling with his own sense of mono no aware, because Neighbor Mutsumi Takehara’s delicious Sandbox Bakery on Cortland is under new ownership.

Confirmed: Sandbox has been sold to Pinkie’s Bakery from SOMA.

In an email to Bernalwood last week, Neighbor Peter provided the tip that something was up:

Sandbox has been closed recently and word is that it has been taken over by “Pinkie’s Bakery” or something like that. At least, several of my friends have reported that the receipts now say Pinkie’s Bakery.

Is the Bernalwood News Team aware of these events?

Last weekend the Bernalwood Action News team deployed to the scene for some hungry-for-breakfast reporting at Sandbox.  The pastry selection was conspicuously meager during our visit, and there were no negi-miso croissants anywhere be seen. Anywhere. Nevertheless, we verified the basic details of Neighbor Peter’s tip: Sandbox Bakery was in fact sold, and Pinkie’s Bakery was in fact the buyer.

Later on Saturday, Bernalwood received a friendly note from the proprietor of Pinkie’s Bakery:

My name is Cheryl Storms and I own Pinkie’s Bakery on Folsom with my business partner Chris Beerman.

I just wanted to drop a line and give you a heads up that we very recently bought Sandbox Bakery.  I know there’s a tiny bit of buzz going around and I wanted to make sure I paid proper respect to the neighborhood and introduce myself before word got out too much.

Generally, we won’t be changing too much about Sandbox, other than the name and some of the products. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Pinkie’s, but our product line is much more American style; I’ve always made things that I consider comforting and delicious (my dads recipe for carrot cake, banana nut bread, apple turnovers, amazing chocolate chip cookies).

I’d like to bring many of my signature Pinkies pastries over to Cortland, and I’m keeping a lot of Mutsumi’s products as well, but many of the Japanese items are gone because I feel like those were really specific to her and her vision of the bakery.  We are also bringing in artisan breads, cakes, and a lot of afternoon treats.  We do a lot of wholesale bread and are using the kitchen overnight for our production as well.

I’m excited to serve the neighborhood and meet all of our neighbors.  I have a four month old, so I really like the family vibe of Bernal; kid friendliness and family was a big part of Mutsumi’s bakery and I definitely won’t be changing that as it becomes Pinkie’s Bakery.

The Pinkie’s Bakery Instagram account provides a visual overview of the specialties:

pinkiesinstagram

It all looks sprinklicious, so please welcome Cheryl and Pinkie’s Bakery to Cortlandia!

Still, I cannot deny: I will miss those fantastic negi-miso croissants Sandbox used to make; they were a profound and wonderful thing. Yet, like the fallen petals of a cherry blossom, I realize those days have passed. In my heart I feel mono no aware, but in my mouth it tastes like umami memories of a negi-miso croissant.

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

87 thoughts on “Cortland’s Sandbox Bakery Sold to Pinkie’s from SOMA

  1. (I’m a different Neighbor Peter) Sad to hear of this, the Japanese bakery concept was really cool, as was 903 restaurant (whither that now?). I’ve only spoken briefly to Mutsumi over the years, but the general impression I have is that she’s brilliant at conceiving and starting things but doesn’t follow through to the point of their really being established. A lot of on-again, off-again, then-again, Finneganning. And while I appreciate and have supported the innovations, now we’re stuck with an ordinary Amurikan Carb Depot shoveling undifferentiated weapons of ass construction onto an indifferent clientele.

    It’s not enough just to see a dream realized—that’s just the beginning. There’s no cap on demand for taking things further and further. If you get complacent and say that’s enough for now, not only will your own process of discovery cease, so will everyone else’s. And there’s nothing to discover there anymore.

    • Actually, she’s developed an allergy to wheat, like many pastry chefs do. I think you tone is pretty shitty

      • I’m not familiar with this person, but I can say that being gluten intolerant and being flaky (get it…pastry chef…ha!), are two completely separate things that are not mutually exclusive. She could be both, inconsistent and incapable of follow-through…AND gluten intolerant.

        Also, I thought “Amurikan Carb Depot shoveling undifferentiated weapons of ass construction onto an indifferent clientele” was a clever & descriptive use of english!

      • Wouldn’t it be dreamy if it could stay Sandbox but also serve gluten-free goods? Unfortunately there’s a huge need for gluten-free these days (sadly I cannot eat wheat either) but not nearly enough bakeries that serve that need. Dynamo donuts serves gluten-free donuts and sells out every single day even though their exorbitantly priced… Can you imagine Mitsumi is genius but also gluten-free? Dream.

      • @Sam, that would be fantastic! Too bad she didn’t take her own gluten limitations and turn them into a marketable product. Maybe the new place will sell gluten free products. I have some friends who would drive from Oakland into SF for something like that.

  2. “Generally, we won’t be changing too much about Sandbox, other than the name and some of the products.”
    Um, What else is there to change? The paint?

    • My thoughts exactly. While I’ll welcome Pinkie’s when it comes, it seems disingenuous to say you won’t change much except the whole concept. I love a good sprinkled donut as much as the next person, but the Japanese flavor of Sandbox is what made it special, maybe even what made it Bernal.

    • I know. And I am singularly disinterested in carrot cake and chocolate chip cookies. For that I will hit Little Bee or Martha & Bros. I am also a little sad that the Sandbox folks didn’t do a “Goodbye, thanks for the memories”. Ah well. Mono no aware.

      • Mutsumi would have loved to have more of a send-off, but the transaction was rushed because she had a trip to Japan planned. Upon her return in August, I’m sure she will have some kind words for her loyal fans and customers.

    • Sorry, I should have been more clear. We only removed a few of the very Japanese flavored menu items, but the majority of the products offered at Sandbox are and will remain the same. We won’t be changing the decor or the coffee or employees, and I hope to retain the same friendly neighborhood vibe.

      • Cheryl, I want to apologize for all the unwelcoming negativity — including my own, a few comments down. I think all of us Sandbox fans are just in a bit in shock this morning. Those tofu rice burgers were so good. (And I’m still bummed about 903 closing.) You seem lovely, and enthusiastic about your new venture — and the loss of Mutsumi’s wonderful establishments are certainly not your fault. Unfortunately for me personally, I’m not a big fan of sweets, so I’ll miss the Japanese items terribly. I hope you will keep the piroshkis and savory scones! Anyway, welcome to the neighborhood. I’m sure we’ll all be Pinkie’s fans as soon as the shock wears off.

      • Welcome to the neighborhood. I’m hoping you’ll keep the 6 am opening time? I noticed that Pinkie’s on Folsom doesn’t open until 8 am.

      • Welcome, Cheryl and your new bakery, Pinkies. 🙂 I probably don’t need to tell you that, on average, online Bernalites commenters are much crankier than in-person Bernalites. (True as a rule in most communities, I’m sure.) I hope that you and your staff will feel that welcoming vibe when you open your doors.

    • “we’re not changing anything except the name, products, owners, employees, wholesalers, and yeah, we’re moving the building too, but otherwise everything else will be the same” sorry, couldn’t resist 🙂

  3. What about the morning buns? Some of the best in the city and the perfect way to start a Bernal morning. I hope some of the heart and inspiration of Sandbox stays as that’s what made it different and special compared to all the other options around. Well baked, not overly sweet pastry.

    Yes the offerings didn’t change that much over the years, but the staples were delicious. Good luck to the new owners.

    • croissants, morning buns and most of the breakfast offerings are the same. We are really just adding some more items and afternoon pastries.

  4. Devastated. The photos above of donuts and sprinkled cookies look so standard and boring. No more tofu/chicken rice sandwiches? Can’t Pinkie’s keep the locals happy by sticking with a few of Mutsumi’s Japanese “visions?” I’ll bet the piroshkis and cheese-dill scones will also be tossed out in favor of more typical fare. (Sorry Pinkie’s, I’m just really disappointed. I do wish you luck and I hope you’ll prove me wrong with some creative, savory delights. Don’t change the coffee, ok?)

  5. Are Mutsumi and Mike leaving the neighb? Their home is the building that houses the bakery. Can’t imagine living there without running the business.

    • mutsumi and mike still live above the bakery, mutsumi just couldn’t operate the bakery anymore due to a serious allergy to wheat flour. we are lucky to have them as our landlords. ❤️

  6. Would love to know if Mutsumi is planning something new! Like a book of recipes (yes please)? And is there a chance to still get our favorites this week or has it all changed already? I’m going to need to mourn the Cheese and Chive scones and Tofu rice burgers for a few weeks at least. Pinkies, please get the recipes 😉 and welcome to bernal.

  7. I’ll miss Sandbox’s morning pastries.

    When Little Bee started they deliberately focused on cakes and desserts to compliment, rather than directly compete, with Sandbox.

    Wish all the best to “Pinkies” but it doesn’t seem like they’re getting off to the best start good will-wise.

  8. Well she certainly had a pedigree. I am sure with time, everyone will come to love Pinkies just as much as we all did Sandbox. Learn how to make your own morning bun 🙂

    “With a passion for nostalgia and sweets, Cheryl Burr brings whimsy and comfort into her signature breads and desserts at Pinkie’s Bakery. Educated at San Francisco City College Culinary Program, she has worked at the Rotunda at Neiman Marcus, The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco, The Hilton Hawaiian Village, EOS and was the full-time Baker and Pastry Chef at bacar.
    Since 2008, Pinkie’s Bakery has been a San Francisco favorite and has received numerous accolades, including: Bon Appétit, 7×7 Magazine, SF Weekly and LA Times magazine. Pinkie’s Bakery continues to flourish both as a wholesale bakery and a destination for wedding and special occasion cakes.”

  9. Sad to hear of this, though of course I wish Pinkie’s all the best. Pastries from Sandbox got me through some of the toughest bike rides of my life, especially the rice/tofu burger thing (which I guess isn’t a ‘pastry’, but still). I really hope that remains on the menu.

  10. Cheryl and Pinkies! Welcome to the neighborhood. We moved here after a nearly 5 yr stint in SOMA. Pinkies was our regular weekend visit. Even after we moved we made a few returns. Bernal has a donut hole (pun not intended) and hope your lunch sandwich creations that I see on Instagram join the menu as well. Good luck and we will see you again on the weekends. Also congrats on the baby! Last we visited you were pregnant.

    • Thank you Jess!! I am super excited about this new venture. I’m so stoked you will be our customers again! The baby has been making daily appearances at Samdbox this past week as I’ve been carting her between bakeries trying to get organized. We will probably see you soon. 🙂

  11. Wow this comment volcano erupted quickly. Cheryl I appreciate you responding here and reassuring us most of the breakfast items will remain. We visit every weekend and drop $20 on croissants to last us through Monday. Ham and Cheese and Almond are very tasty and our favorites.

    • I know, right?! the Internet is a funny thing. ☺️ I’m excited to be a part of this neighborhood and to meet everyone face to face. thanks for the positivity, brian!

  12. So excited! Used to visit your SOMA location on Saturdays for your incredible donuts! Welcome to the neighborhood!

    • thank you!!! I’m hoping to bring the donuts to bernal very soon! till then we will keep strong with the croissants and morning buns.

  13. As a patron of Pinkie’s in SOMA, I can attest to how delicious it is and I’m excited to have an offshoot nearby. Welcome to the neighborhood, Cheryl!

    PS I’ll be bringing Nak around for a visit!

  14. Welcome to the neighborhood Pinkie’s. I personally haven’t had a good experience at Sandbox. Quite frankly it’s embarassing to hear all the people on here bitching about the new ownership.

  15. Glad Matsumi getting a well deserved break from her awesome multitasking!
    All the best to her and Family! Let us stay in touch ! Toby and Joe

  16. Hi. I am happy that you guys connected in happy way and thank you very much for all the nice comments about my bakery. Sandbox was my baby and very sad to let go. I developed severe wheat allergy over years and cannot work in the environment anymore….I cannot even eat rice! What kind of Japnese am I!?
    I believe Cheryl and Chris are very good fit and will keep Bernal happy.
    I am in Japan now and learning more authentic Japanese cooking so will open sonething fun again in the neighbourhood.
    Thank you again for missing Sandbox!!
    Mutsumi

    • Mutsumi, thank you for giving us Sandbox for so many years. Its presence made this end of the neighborhood so much better, and I’ll miss it terribly (though it sounds like the bakery is in good hands). I’m sorry to learn of your wheat allergy, but I’m also very relieved to learn that you will be back with something new. Can’t wait to see what you do next!

    • Mutsumi,
      Thanks for the update! I appreciated you, your team, your family and all the delicious food at the Sandbox and in the neighborhood. Good luck with the Wheat Allergy, and with your next venture. The sandbox is/was an awesome place and i hope the new owners can take what you built and keep it going successfully

      Best regards!

  17. will miss Sandbox.. I use to live a block from Pinkies.. It’s an amazing place and the owner is extremely friendly.

  18. welcome to the neighborhood! one teeny tiny request i haven’t yet seen above: PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t stop serving the bagels! they are PERFECTION.

  19. Welcome to the neighborhood, Cheryl! I love pinkies and am so excited to see you opening up in bernal. One request- please bring those amazing donuts with you! I might be the only one who has this problem, but I frequently crave donuts in the afternoon and mourn the lack of donut options in the neighborhood. Your donuts are incredible….

    When will you be open?

    • Sandbox is still open and will be through the transition, we might close for a day in August when we change the sign but I plan on remaining open just as before, slowly adding Pinkies products as we go along. So glad we have a donut fan in the hood! I’d love to bring the donuts to Bernal, we gotta see if we can fit a fryer in this little kitchen first. 😉

      • Hi Cheryl, I just want to say welcome to the neighborhood! I’ve been a big fan since before you had the soma location – when you were selling treats at Rainbow! Just want to say if you ever decide to bring back your vegan blueberry bars, this girl would be eternally grateful ❤

  20. I was never a fan of sandbox their cookies where gross and extremely oily and boring most of the pastries where borning and burn and dry i went in recently and saw flies just havibg the time of their lives on the rice mean squares so many negative comments i personally dont like sweets but i will try pinkies and most of the people who comment about everhthing are bitter like most of the new bernal neighbors the new people complain about everything but who cares welcome pinkis finally a place that doesn’t close at 3pm

  21. There’s a huge market opportunity to serve gluten – free goods on Cortland. May I suggest Cup4Cup flour. It’s amazing and as celiac who remembers what gluten tastes like, I can vouch for it. Is there any possibility of Pinkies doing that?

    • we actually use cup-for-cup at our Folsom bakery for our gf scones and cookies. I love it! we are currently selling our blueberry cornmeal gf scones at sandbox. more to come soon!

  22. My god. I’ve lived in the neighborhood for almost 10 years and have been a regular reader of Bernalwood. But the comments on this story are utterly ridiculous. They are an embarrassment on the neighborhood.

    I love Sandbox and am a regular. Thank you Mutsumi for everything you brought to the neighborhood. And welcome Cheryl – I look forward to seeing what you bring and to supporting your business in our village.

  23. So, so sad to hear sandbox is closing. We loved that place. A weekly ritual for our family. Love the drip coffee, fresh, fresh pastries, and warm neighborhood vibe. However, I am very glad to hear another bakery will be moving in and one that looks to be good, with friendly owners. I mean it could be much, much worse. We could have a another nail salon or empty tea shop. Welcome pinkies.

  24. Cheryl-

    I appreciate your attempt to lean in to the crazy backlash here instead of hide and leave these comments unaddressed.

    A little background: my wife and I moved our family to Bernal 10 months ago after living for nearly a decade one block away from Tartine, Birite, etc. Needless to say we’ve been spoiled. Sandbox was literally one of the few reasons I agreed to give Bernal a shot. (Sorry Neighbors, I’ve since learned to love some other parts!). Since moving, we’ve had breakfast and coffee from Sandbox 2-3 times per week

    I’d specifically like to ask about your comments of leaving the rest of the pastries the same. I was there this morning and all of the wonderful scones have been replaced by some seriously inferior scone-like replicas. My wife is adicted to the sour cherry and almond scone and was nearly in tears when I returned home with the overly soft and less delicious alternative.

    On the topic of quality, fresh-baked bread, Bernal is sorely lacking in this department,. You’d be well served to consider selling some of he bread you are baking for wholesale to your new neighbors.

    Please continue to roll with the punches and take the feedback here objectively and not personally. Regardless if you are in Bernal, SOMA or anywhere else, remember that people ultimately vote with their wallets, and customer feedback is always a gift

    Mitsumi, sorry to hear about your condition. Thanks for making the first 10 months of our Bernal lives special.

    • I can assure you that the quality of what has been served at Sandbox Bakery will maintain under Cheryl’s managment/ownership. I work the front of the house at the 833 Cortland location and we’re currently just trying to acclimate to the change of ownership. I’ve tasted the baked goods at Pinkie’s and, while it is a deviation from the norm, the items are outstanding – truly. And though transitions are never entirely smooth, they are an opportunity to explore and try something new.

    • thanks for the feedback, Dave! It is definitely in the plan to fill the empty bread rack in Sanbox with our rustic levains, baguettes and seeded multigrain batards. We are just waiting on our fancy new bread oven to arrive so we can start baking all the bread at Sandbox. Can’t wait! 😄 thanks for the encouragement!

      • Cheryl, Thanks for chiming in here and good luck with this venture! The sandbox bakery has been a fantastic spot in the neighborhood, and I hope you can continue it along. Very excited to hear about the bread oven, that is definitely cool!

    • I believe I was in Sandbox at the same time as you this morning (your tot was demanding a bagel…). I was disappointed in my cheese/herb scone, but hoping the coffee stays the same and some of my favorites return, accompanied by new things.

  25. “but many of the Japanese items are gone because I feel like those were really specific to her and her vision of the bakery.”

    I think that’s fair, honoring the artist more than the desire for the consumer goods they produce.

  26. I hope you keep the same recipe for the croissants, truly sensational. Glad you will offer breads. It would be nice to see the people behind the counter smile every now and then. Since we’re talking about changes. Welcome to the hood.

  27. I love Pinkies. Whenever I’m visiting my son who lives down the street, I always pick up some very delicious goodies. Welcome to the neighborhood!

  28. I’m not at all embarrassed by these comments — they’re the sign of a neighborhood that’s passionate about its small businesses. And it’s not just “new people complaining.” It’s people who’ve been here for years and years and have (mostly) enjoyed watching Bernal change, because a neighborhood that never changes is dead. Cheryl, I really appreciate your thoughtful responses and your good spirit, and will be happy to see how Pinkie’s evolves. Sounds like you have devoted customers already, which bodes well for success. Mutsumi, I’m sorry about your horribly ironic allergy and hope you’re able to keep delighting Bernal with your cooking. Safe travels.

  29. Just wanted to add another thanks for the hilarity of this quote: “Generally, we won’t be changing too much about Sandbox, other than the name and some of the products.” Oh really? Good to know.

    What a bummer.

  30. What’s the fuss? I went by this morning and enjoyed eating my regular carrot muffin and chatting with the same wonderful staff…!

  31. Ok, I’ll chime in with my own disappointment here while trying to be simultaneously welcoming to Cheryl. Cheryl, as one of the other posters said above, we Bernalites are much more welcoming and friendly in person than online. 🙂

    For me, I’m still getting over the disappointment of losing the Liberty Cafe bakery. Those were hands down the best pecan sticky buns in the whole city (better than Tartine) and I still miss them sorely and the lovely bakery staff that used to bake and serve coffee and chat in the early mornings. I have finally made some peace with that disappointment because I do like the coffee and the cheddar scallion biscuits at the Sandbox. So finding out that those will now be gone too is another disappointment.

    Cheryl, no offense, but sprinkles kind of put me off. That’s my last word of disappointment.

    Aside from that welcome to the neighborhood. I hope you’ll bring your own special flavors and unique offerings to add to our wonderful quirky family oriented Bernalwood. I look forward to meeting you and wish you the very best.

  32. I was a bit skeptical when I heard that Sandbox was closing but I am happy to hear reports that Pinkies has a good reputation and I very much look forward to having fresh bread! I hope that Mitsumi finds a new culinary adventure to share with us and please don’t be shy to try some gluten free desserts out on us!!

    Good luck!

  33. Welcome Cheryl, and thanks for the memories, Mutsumi. I hope the fruit & cream brioche stays on the menu, or my 5-year-old will take her allowance money elsewhere.

    PLEASE don’t change the coffee or the baristas. Sandbox has the most consistently tasty lattes and cappuccinos on Cortland (with recent addition Pinhole a close 2nd). I always walk past Progressive Grounds, Martha & Bros, Little Bee and more just to enjoy a Sandbox coffee.

  34. it appears the last bits of Sandbox that many of us know and love are now gone. I had renewed hope when the tori saboro reappeared, but clearly this was just the magician’s trick of redirection.

    I was greeted today by some new faces. A nice pair of employees but neither had any clue how to make coffee or espresso drinks.

    The pastries have gotten smaller and less carefully prepared. Each day they more closely resemble the sad little gluten-free scones that were the harbinger of doom when they first appeared

    Sadly my days as a regular customer have come to an end.

    • Sad, Dave. Very sad. They are losing a valuable customer, for sure. Seriously. Harbinger of Doom. Just sad.

      🙂

  35. I went to Pinkie’s Bakery this morning. Just, bad. My husband and I go there 3-4 times or more in a week and the quality and new staff are missing the mark every single time. Why would I begin my morning interacting with rude people and eating old croissants? I will not be going back, I will go where ever Mutsumi is.

    SORRY

  36. also, mcobsessed, i think Liberty Bakery had the biggest and best morning buns or sticky buns as i think they used to call them but of course as with everything else that used to be good in San Francisco, that situation also had to be “improved”.

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