Sadly, I have never set foot in a maid cafe, nor have very many American otaku. Aside from temporarily at anime conventions (where they're very popular attractions!), they don't exist here.
"Letters from the New York Otaku"
By David Cabrera
#42 - A Maid Cafe in Brooklyn? Maybe...
Sadly, I have never set foot in a maid cafe, nor have very many American otaku. Aside from temporarily at anime conventions (where they're very popular attractions!), they don't exist here. Even thinking of a big city like New York with a lot of anime/manga fans, I have my doubts that such an establishment would be able to pay the rent. However, against the odds, a fan-run operation wants to change that.
The proposed Perfect Sakura Blossom Maid Cafe (usamaidcafe.wordpress.com) seeks “to provide a family-friendly “home-away-from-home” for all enthusiasts of Japanese culture.“ Well, I suppose a maid cafe can be family-friendly, that is... you could take a little kid there. Maids in frilly dresses aren't really very exciting to a little kid, but I guess it's possible to take your family to a maid cafe.
The cafe plans to offer the same amenities as a typical Japanese maid cafe might: the maids would both serve and entertain with Japan-related games and culture lessons. This part I could actually see working out: little language and culture lessons are perfect for the audience that would come to a place like this. Basic kana stuff? Touhou mythology lessons? Teach them a game? There's a lot of stuff you could do in that space, and I think American otaku are just as likely as Japanese otaku to pay cute maids to hang out with them.
However, the offer of employment is a little suspect: $30 an hour waiting tables in New York City? $50? That's absurd! Of course, that's not their salary or anything. The pitch is that the cosplayer-- again, just like in a Japanese maid cafe-- would charge for photos and build up an adoring, paying fanbase. Then the big money would come along.
I wonder if this kind of model would really work in New York. American otaku tend to be pretty young-- high school or college age-- and if they come to a place like this, they probably aren't going to try and spend a lot: they have anime-related products to buy, after all. My guess is that this sort of place would be kept afloat by five or so really loaded regulars who have been waiting for a maid cafe to appear in the city all their lives.. and maybe out of those five one would wind up a stalker or something.
Unfortunately, there are very few solid details about the cafe on that website. Where in Brooklyn will they be? It's kind of a big place, like if I said “in Osaka, by a train” and didn't further specify. The website hasn't been updated in a while, either...
Rest assured, though, that if this maid cafe ever comes to be I'll definitely visit and tell you all about it. Such is the responsibility I bear.