Lonely Planet Writer

America’s first permanent Hello Kitty cafe opens in Southern California

A Hello Kitty pop-up cafe has been roaming the country for the last few years, delivering treats and happiness from a pastel pink truck. But now, the adorable Japanese character is bringing more enduring joy to Arcadia, California with a permanent Hello Kitty Mini Cafe.

The tiny cafe inside the Southern California Westfield Santa Anita mall is delighting crowds with the same pastel-hued beverages and pastries — there are tiny birthday and strawberry cakes, a Hello Kitty pocket pie or plate of macarons, and flavoured lemonade. Coffee drinks come bedecked with latte art of the happy cat, and merchandise is also available, from t-shirts and coffee mugs to bow-topped headbands. Even the bottle of water is cute, shaped like a big pink bow. Most of the offerings, packaging, and decor of the space feature the signature shade of pink and are splashed with sprinkles and bows. The shop opened on 7 April with an hours-long line to order — truly devoted fans were queued up after sunrise for the promise of a small commemorative gift with purchase for the first 100 customers.

Created by Japanese toy company Sanrio in 1974, the beloved cat has been a worldwide sensation since. Sleep in a Hello Kitty-themed room in a Tokyo hotel, travel on Hello-Kitty branded trains or planes, eat Hello Kitty melons in Japan and sip Hello Kitty wine in California. There’s even a Hello Kitty-adorned maternity hospital in Taiwan. According to Eater Los Angeles, the shop’s co-owner Allen Tea hinted that something special “that will throw a lot of people off… in a good way” is coming in 2017, continuing the craze on America’s west coast.

Prices start at $4.50/£3.60 for a lemonade and $4/ £3.20 for a cookie.

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