New York’s first maid cafe offers more than just coffee

When you walk into Maid Cafe NY, young women in pink and white frilly maid uniforms bow and say, “Okaerinasai mase, gosyujin sama!” (or “Okaerinasai mase, ojou sama!” if you are a woman). The Japanese phrase means “Welcome home, master!” and this phrase sets the tone at the Moe Maid Cafe event at Maid Cafe NY on Centre Street in Chinatown.

Maid Cafe NY is the first of its kind in New York. Maid cafes are popular in Japan, where they have been around since the early 2000s. Waitresses cosplay as cutesy maids in pinafores and petticoats, and refer to their customers as “master” or “princess.” The idea of a maid cafe is to provide a private home-like experience where maids treat their customers with a personal touch, as if they are serving the masters or mistresses of the cafe.

Typically, the similarities to a traditional Japanese maid cafe end at the uniforms at Maid Cafe NY and the “maids” act like any other server would, greeting customers in English and taking orders for pretty little pastries, bubble tea and a few Japanese comfort dishes like chicken cutlet curry.

Satoshi Yoshimura, the owner of Maid Cafe NY, said he didn’t want to put off customers who weren’t used to traditional maid cafe service. But due to popular demand, Yoshimura decided to hold an event in the cafe where the maids provided traditional “moe” service for $10 an hour. “Moe” is Japanese slang that roughly translates to “adorable” or “cute.”

And the maids certainly act cute. Reiko, an 18-year-old maid from Brooklyn, said Yoshimura had experienced maids from Japan teach the newbies how to act. She talked in a baby voice and ended every sentence by ducking under a menu and giggling. “Every day here is fun!” she squealed. She shuffled around the cafe greeting customers in her white headband, lacy pink and white dress, white tights and pink Doc Martens.

Out of 16 customers at the event, 15 were men. One of them asked his friends, “Can you imagine what every married couple would be like if the husband were the master? Can you imagine how that would change relationships?” His friends shifted uncomfortably and one said, “That would be … bad.” The man then mused, “Or maybe it could be a holiday. Like on one day a year, the wife treats her husband like the master.”

A maid approached a table of customers and greeted them. “How was your day?” she asks each one. One man answered that he was tired.

“Ooh, working too hard?” she asked in a baby voice. He nodded. She made an exaggerated sad face and then offered to play jan-ken-pon with a customer. Jan-ken-pon is like rocks-paper-scissors, but cuter, with bunny ears as one of the gestures. “Ooh, no. I lost again!” she said as she held her fists toward her eyes and pretended to cry. She knelt down at the side of the table, a signature touch at maid cafes, to take orders and bowed as she left the table. Back at the counter, the maids dropped their voices an octave and were all business as they rushed to grab drinks and add orders to checks.

Victor Bernal from Queens is a student at NYU and a regular at Maid Cafe NY. “It’s like a home away from home,” he said. “The waitresses talk to you and ask you how your day is going.” Bernal has been studying Japanese for eight months and has always been intrigued by the culture; he first learned about maid cafes after he saw them featured in anime cartoons. Bernal ordered omurice, a special dish just for the event in which an omelette is served over fried rice.

Reni Mimura, a Japanese pop singer, was hosting the event and moonlighting as a maid for the night. She came over to draw a design on his omurice with ketchup. In Japanese, she wrote to Bernal, “I like you” and drew a heart underneath. The maids also drew bunnies and hearts and wrote messages on menus and plastic bubble tea cups.

Lawrence Asperilla, 25, of Teaneck, N.J., is a seasoned maid cafe tourist. He has been to maid cafes in Tokyo, Sapporo, Osaka and Nagoya. “They’re a really good place to find out about local attractions,” he explained. Asperilla said he found the service at the Moe Maid Cafe very similar to that of maid cafes in Japan. “They talk a lot with you and play games with you like Jenga, Pop A Pirate or Darts,” he said.

John Lewis, 28, of Queens works as a server at another restaurant, but still enjoys spending his off time at the cafe. “They have cute maids here,” he smiled. “That’s all I can say.”

Yoshimura, who also promotes J-pop (Japanese pop music) events and artists, hopes to make his cafe a hub for anime fans all over New York. “We have seen a growing population of Japanese anime fans as well as people who are interested in kawaii (cute) culture from Japan,” he said. “We are planning to have a lot of events to make our venue a mecca of kawaii culture in New York City.” The cafe hosts various cosplay and anime events, as well as monthly Maid Shows where maids dance and sing for customers.

Follow Andrea Park on Twitter: @andreapark



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

US military tried, but failed to rescue journalist…

The U.S. military earlier this year tried to rescue journalist James Foley and other American hostages held in Syria ,but failed to find the captives.

National

Fate of captured beluga whales in hands of…

A Georgia aquarium went to court on Wednesday seeking federal permission to bring 18 captured beluga whales to the United States from Russia.

Local

After Eric Garner death, religious leaders meet to…

Interfaith leaders convened with city officials to discuss what the community can do to help dial down heightened tensions after Eric Garner's death.

Local

'Suspicious' Hamilton Heights fire caused by power strip:…

An extension cord overload caused the deadly fire in Hamilton Heights late Monday that killed a 15-year-old girl and injured at least 12 others.

Television

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

And then there were six. It was a big night on stage as the Top 6 got to dance with each other, All-star partners and perform a solo routine.

Going Out

5 things to do in NYC this weekend…

FILM Lebowski Fest Aug. 22-23, 8 p.m. Various locations, Manhattan $20-$30, www.lebowskifest.com The Dude abides — for 48 hours to celebrate the 1998 Coen brothers classic.…

Television

'Doctor Who' personality profile: the 4 Doctors

When the time comes for a new Doctor, there's always some anxiety over the big question: Who will he be? The series owes its longevity…

Television

Billy Crystal to commemorate late actor Robin Williams…

  Comedian Billy Crystal will pay tribute to late actor Robin Williams at television's Primetime Emmy Awards on Aug. 25, the show's organizers said on…

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

NFL

Jalen Saunders still unsure what caused car accident…

Jets rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time since his car accident, but he didn't say a whole lot.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL defense (DEF)

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL quarterbacks (QB)

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Wellbeing

Metabolic syndrome could have a sugar link

Scientists in St. Louis may have found another culprit in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Uric acid is…

Wellbeing

Another way stress hurts your unborn baby

Mothers know to try staying calm during pregnancy, as stress has been linked to behavioral and developmental problems for their babies. But now, a new…