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
Local

Mayor pledges lower greenhouse gas emissions from New…

Just hours before the start of the People’s Climate March on Sunday, and two days ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit, Mayor Bill de…

National

The best places to see the Northern Lights…

A large solar storm hit the Earth's atmosphere and will tonight illuminate the skies with aurora borealis -- also known as the Northern Lights.

Local

Police officer killed Sunday morning Bronx crash, 8…

One NYPD police officer was killed and eight other officers were injured early Sunday morning when the van they were traveling in crashed  in the…

National

Pennsylvania police shooter manhunt near home of suspect's…

A police manhunt intensified on Friday for the gunman who killed an officer and wounded another in an ambush at a Pennsylvania police barracks a week ago.

Television

'How to Get Away with' mischaracterizing Shondra Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes read Alessandra Stanley's New York Times piece about her being "an angry black woman" and "a romance writer" and it did not sit well with her.

Gossip

New nude celebrity selfies leak … and Clay…

A new batch of nude selfies of Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Hudgens, Lake Bell and Avril Lavigne hit the web and Clay Aiken has something to say!

Television

James Spader's route to villainy on "The Blacklist"

In honor of the second season premiere of "The Blacklist" tonight, where James Spader plays good guy/bad guy Raymond “Red” Reddington, it’s a good time to look back at Spader’s…

Television

True Detective

NFL

Jay Cutler takes Marc Trestman's coaching to heart

While Jay Cutler turned to an autobiography on the man who would be his head coach, Trestman had personal experience with the player.

NFL

Jets vs. Bears: 3 things to watch

Jets fans likely chalked up Monday's matchup with the Bears as a loss when the NFL schedule came out. But given their team's play so…

NFL

Rashad Jennings carries Giants in first win this…

Rashad Jennings, who came to New York from Oakland last year, by way of Jacksonville, was highly coveted this offseason by general manager Jerry Reese.

NFL

3 things we learned as Giants pick up…

The Giants picked up their first win of the season over the Texans.

Career

Here's how to make the most of visit…

You’re primped, you’re looking polished, you’re prepared with a stack of resumes. Job fair hunters, unite! There are a few things to keep in mind…

Education

Learn how to study effectively and stop cramming…

Picture this: It’s midterm week, and college students everywhere are trying to frantically memorize all of the math formulas, political theories and historical facts that…

Parenting

How motherhood inspired Bethenny Frankel's new book

Bethenny Frankel's new children's book is about how her daughter and dog didn't always get alone.

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.