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By Caleb Wortz
Oklahoma now has its first Taiyaki shop, and of all places, it has landed in downtown Sapulpa, at 24 E. Dewey.
Taiyaki is a street food originating from Japan that consists of baked waffle or pancake batter in the shape of a fish. It is typically filled with a sweetened red bean paste but Little Taiyaki’s will come alongside various flavors of soft-serve ice cream.
The shop will also serve Acai bowls, a berry and fruit mix with health benefits, horchata cold brews, a twist on a classic Mexican drink, and soft serve flavors like Strawberry Horchata. They will also offer non-dairy ice cream.
“The good thing about us is that all our ice cream is made fresh every single day,” Katherine Gutierrez said. “Our machines will be sanitized every single day because it’s actually an important thing to make your ice cream taste good: having clean equipment.”
Michelle and Katherine are twin sisters who will be running the store with their mother Rose, who immigrated from Mexico City, Mexico in 1981. She was also the source of the inclusion of Acai bowls and was quick to highlight their health benefits.
“My sister told me about an ice cream trend she saw and made a joke out of the blue. She said we can definitely do better and that we should open our own ice cream shop,” Michelle said. “She was just joking. laughing and my mom looks at me and I look at her. No, we should do it.”
That passing idea evolved and turned into a hailstorm of setbacks that have delayed the opening since 2019. It started with the Sapulpa’s 2019 EF-1 tornado that left their building on E Dewey Ave in downtown with damage.
Business plans were again halted, as many others were, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
“It took us about two more years to actually finish the renovations because it took us a while to find contractors even willing to come out.” Michelle said, “So it’s just a battle, we end up doing a lot of the work ourselves like installing all the tile, installing the floors, installing fixtures and painting and then my mom repaired a lot of things like the exposed brick.”
These delays unintentionally coincided with the cities’ initiative program which the family was able to get approval for. After a long process starting in 2019, they were finally able to complete their soft-opening this last Saturday to a receptive Sapulpa community.
Much of the interior of the building along with some impressive furniture was designed by Rose Gutierez herself. She says that while she has no formal education in it, she greatly enjoys interior design and learned a lot seeing her dad make things for her mother growing up in Mexico.
While issues with an appliance shipment will leave them with a limited menu for another week or two. The sisters appeared confident in their future plans with a chef that will help them create flavors and rotate new ones monthly.
“All our ingredients come from Italy, our ice cream bases, which is nice. Michelle said. “I just want to serve them the best.”
Little Taiyaki is open seven days a week from noon to 8 pm.