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.