Brandon Sugano and Claire Kim, the owners of Sura Korean BBQ & Tofu House, read with sadness about the pending closure of Fine Feathers Kombucha and felt the need to do whatever they could to help—even if it meant crunching the numbers and buying the business.
“We were truly saddened because that was our favorite kombucha product and it was the one we carried in our restaurant,” Brandon said. “When we read that article, we immediately reached out to Jay [Penev, the former owner of Fine Feathers] to let him know we heard the news and we wanted to help.”
Brandon and Claire were unsure of where Fine Feathers was heading: Were they going wholesale and ramping up can production while shutting down the taproom and storefront? Within the beverage business, Brandon said, it is “rather common for businesses to go big or go home—but we were really unsure which path they were planning to take.”
After a handful of discussions, it was clear that Jay and Jodine, after eight years of investing themselves into kombucha, were ready to fully shut down Fine Feathers. Neither were interested in a new partnership and both were hitting a point where moving on was becoming more important than saving a business. Brandon and Claire, seeing an opportunity, casually put in an offer to buy the business, offering a win-win: Jay and Jodine can get some type of compensation for their years of work while Fine Feathers can continue as a brand and local favorite.
And so, just a week reading about Fine Feather closing, Brandon and Claire found themselves the new owners of Fine Feathers.
“It was a buzzer-beater move, they swooped in and saved the brand from the projected closure,” said Jay. “Their appreciation for the company and its mission inclined them to make the decision to carry on the legacy of Long Beach’s first and only kombucha company.”
Brandon and Claire are not strangers to kombucha, they have brewed it themselves and a significant portion of their business model—this is Korean food, after all—is based around fermentation, including their famed kimchi (sold separately for those wishing to take it home), their fermented habañero salsa, and dongchimi, among others.
“This is actually perfect,” Claire said. “We already have one of our cooks making a savory kombucha—so look out for that.”
Brandon and Claire have begun the process of contacting everyone on the Fine Feathers client list to let them know that operations will continue and, within the coming months, can expect new flavors and experiments. Having already jumpstarted production so they can get as much kombucha out as possible—clients span the entire city, from Salud and Under the Sun to Recreational Coffee and Portfolio Coffeehouse—they are hoping the momentary lull will soon become a memory of the past.
“We are so lucky to be involved in this community and industry,” Brandon said. “It has made the transition so smooth because a lot of the Fine Feathers clients are Sura customers; we all support one another. All of these amazing people dine at Sura on the regular… There’s a community aspect to all this and that is truly what is most important for us: To keep this product available, to keep the community lively.”