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Class Notes May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

Hollywood Sweet Things
Susumu Tsuchihashi, ERC 01

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Hollywood has a yen for sweets, first it was Pinkberry
and Sprinkles, and now it’s Fulfilled Japanese Pastries—a company owned, incidentally, by UCSD alumnus Susumu Tsuchihashi, ERC ’01.

Tsuchihashi, who studied management science at UCSD, worked in the consulting sector for over six years before pursuing his own first entrepreneurial venture. He has made a name for himself by selling a new take on the Japanese Imagawa-yaki, a popular waffle-like pastry traditionally filled with red-bean paste. Tsuchihashi calls his version of the treat “Ima,” and the fillings range from the basic—bananas and Nutella, to the gourmet—figs, goat cheese, honey, and walnuts. There are even three savory Ima on the menu.

“Introducing a new concept to the U.S.,” he says, “I had no idea how customers were going to react to it.”

But it seems there was nothing to worry about—Ima have proven to be an instant hit in Hollywood, and the company has already catered several star-studded parties. It typically takes on large events with 150 or more people and Tsuchihashi, along with a trained team, prepare the pastries together.

Fulfilled Japanese Pastries initially served their treats in a Beverly Hills storefront, but with the onset of the recession and the catering side of the business attracting more customers, Tsuchihashi decided to reconsider his business model. He ­accepted the offer of a customer who wanted to take over
his lease, and has now taken his business completely mobile. He misses the personal connections he established with customers in the storefront, but those same connections have helped him expand the success of his catering business model through referrals and leads.

When the business opened its storefront, there were six employees including a full-time manager. Now, all employees are on call, depending on the size of the event. Tsuchihashi’s close friends also occasionally jump in to help fill positions for large-scale events when on-call employees are unavailable.

He’s currently working closely with high-end country clubs and party planners to cater everything from bar mitzvahs to Hollywood premiers.

“I would like Ima to one day become a mainstream dish like sushi,” Tsuchihashi says.

Amanda Ripley, Muir 09