SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — The Sugar Bowl Bakery is an Asian-American family-owned business that got its start nearly 40 years ago in San Francisco and has grown into a multimillion dollar family owned business right here in the Bay Area.

“We came to the United States as Vietnamese refugees in the 1970s,” said bakery owner, Andrew Ly. 

It was 1979 when Ly and his four brothers left their lives for the land of opportunity, the United States of America. After surviving the journey, Lee says there were more challenges that he and his siblings had to overcome. 

“We came here with nothing, couldn’t speak the language, we didn’t have any money,” he said.

But the Ly family did have a very strong work ethic. He enrolled in the City College of San Francisco got an English tutor and moved to San Francisco State University where he graduated with a degree in business. 

The Ly brothers and their wives decided to pool their resources, saving up about $40,000 and in 1984, decided to buy a small neighborhood coffee shop and bakery in San Francisco.

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At the end of that very first day of business, he says they made $300. That is when the Lys discovered their French-inspired pastry treats were a hit.

After eventually relocating to the East Bay, the Sugar Bowl Bakery now has around 600 employees working in two factories in Hayward and Atlanta, Georgia. It is one of the largest certified minority owned bakeries in America, even earning a special shout out by then President Barack Obama. 

 KRON4 is celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander heritage all month long, so mark your calendars to watch our special that airs on Thursday, May 26 at 06:30 p.m. It features stories about Asian Americans and their contributions in the Bay Area, so don’t forget to tune in for that.