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Long Line Forms Outside Beloved San Francisco Benkyodo Mochi Shop On Final Day

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- The day has come that patrons of the beloved Benkyodo Company mochi shop in San Francisco's Japantown have been dreading for months.

At the close of business Thursday, the shop will shutter its doors for good after serving their sweet rice cake delicacies to local residents for around 115 years.

As the clock has been counting down, the lines have gotten longer. On Thursday, patrons began camping out in the pre-dawn hours.

"All good things must come to an end I guess," said Ethan as he waited in line with friends. "This is my third day coming out here."

Tammy Hoang and Minh Nguyen got in line at 2:30 a.m.

"If you come and the line is past the corner of the building, then there is no point waiting," Tammy said. "So we thought we should get here really early for the last day, just in case. A lot of other people decided to come really early."

Longtime customer Ethan Elejorde said he's been coming here for almost a decade.

"The environment, the people there; it's just such a warm community here," Elejorde said.

Mochi is a handmade rice ball filled with either in its traditional form red bean paste or with favorites developed over the years of blueberry, mango or peanut butter fillings.

For generations, the Okamura family has been doing it the "old school" way, hand-crafting their heavily sought after traditional Japanese rice cakes.

But now Ricky and Bobby Okamura, the shop's third-generation owners, said their grandfather opened the shop in 1906. Now they want to retire and no one in the next generation wanted to take over.

Ricky Okamura expressed his gratitude to the loyal customers for their outpouring of affection as the business prepared to close for the last time.

"I thank them. I thank them from the bottom of my heart," he said.

As to what he will do during his retirement, Ricky said he was uncertain.

"I think I'm gonna watch my grandkids, and then maybe take up golf or something," he said.

The shop made around 1,250 pieces of mochi to sell for the final day. Customers have a 12-piece limit per person.

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