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Umami Burger founder plans new mocktail café concept

SourTooth pop-up to debut in October with no alcohol and no meat

The founder of Umami Burger and 800 Degrees Pizza is planning a new, casual food-and-drink concept focused on mocktails and vegan noshes.

Adam Fleischman and his two partners in the venture, Daniel Woo Garvin and Deep Pulusani, are planning an Oct. 10 opening for SourTooth@Yamashiro as a pop-up restaurant/cafe in Los Angeles. SourTooth will operate as a subsidiary of the partners’ Pinnacle Potions non-alcoholic beverage brand.

“We are pitching it as a pop-up, but we are definitely interested in being there permanently if it works,” Fleischman said.

The pop-up will be located within Yamashiro, a massive space in the Hollywood Hills that currently includes a Japanese restaurant. The space that is being used for SourTooth had been vacant but is being refashioned with what Fleischman described as a “Japanese bohemian” décor featuring colorful elements of Japanese pop art. It will share a kitchen with the Yamashiro restaurant, which is a 100-year-old structure with sweeping views of Los Angeles that is also used an event space and attracts customers from around the world.

Fleischman has crafted the pop-up’s vegan menu, dubbed MeatTooth, which will offer a limited selection of items — about a half dozen at a time, he said — that will change frequently. The food will be Japanese-themed, featuring ingredients such as furikake and items such as purple Japanese sweet potato balls. The menu will also feature Fleischman’s specially created chicken and burger analogs.

“I am trying to push myself to create the world’s best vegan burgers, and chicken and other things,” said Fleischman, who had previously worked on the development of the plant-based Impossible Burger. “It will be a very small, focused menu focused on really high-quality stuff.”

The concept itself will be a casual, family-friendly café-type restaurant with both table and bar service and seating for about 70 people. It will be open from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

“My partners are Millennials, and this is the kind of place Millennials are interested in,” said Fleischman. “It’s not really a bar; bars can be loud and annoying. This will be almost like a coffee shop where people can come and hang out.”

The beverage menu will be centered around non-alcoholic cocktails for both adults and children, and will feature craft drinks made with Pinnacle Potions vinegar-based shrubs and mixers. 

One example is a drink called the Japanese Tea Ceremony, a ceremonial-grade matcha and yuzu cocktail. Customer will have the option of adding adaptogens, nutraceuticals and other supplements to their beverages.

“Everything is healthy and organic, and very cocktail-like,” said Fleischman.

Since launching Umami Burger in 2009, Fleischman has since expanded into several other restaurant ventures, including the fast-casual pizza brand 800 Degrees, ChocoChicken (which has since closed) and Cold Cocked Coffee. The hospitality company SBE acquired Umami Burger in 2016.

Fleischman’s partners in SourTooth are Garvin, an LA-based craft bartender and beverage director, and Pulusani, a tech-industry veteran with an interest in mindful consumption and holistic health.

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