A Look Inside America’s First Hello Kitty Cafe

hello kitty cafe irvine

Photography by Dominique Zamora

It takes a lot for a grown woman to pay $9 for a small stale pastry, but here we are, handing the lady in the pink frock our credit card and paying for overpriced bottled water because it’s shaped like a bow.

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40 minutes earlier, our photo director made a lunch run at a nearby sandwich shop, and the middle aged dad behind us nearly lost it when a gentleman in a pink hat said they were out of sprinkle cakes.

Hello Kitty Pop Up

But back to the $9 pie we’re currently buying. It’s wonderfully mediocre, save for the addition of a little cartoon cat peering up at us. We are, after all, at the Hello Kitty Cafe — a temporary pop-up in Irvine, California slinging food and drinks branded with the beloved Sanrio character and her friends. The pop up joins a list of similar establishments happening worldwide including Japan and Hong Kong.

Hello Kitty Pastry

To understand the hype behind this truck, all you need to do is look at the numbers. The anthropomorphic white cate was created by Yuko Shimizu for Japanese company Sanrio in 1974. The character made her debut on a simple coin purse and quickly became a staple of kawaii in Japanese culture. By the time she reached 40 years old in 2014, Hello Kitty was worth $7 billion a year. And while originally targeted at pre-adolescent females, the brand now encompasses adults willing to wait in lines like they’re about to drop the next Jordans.

Hello Kitty Sign

Except instead of Nikes we’re copping pastel macarons spray painted with the faces of Hello Kitty and her squad.

Hello Kitty Macarons

The cafe itself, is expertly decked out. Everything from the tables to the employees singing “have a sweet day!” exudes the character’s signature cuteness.

Hello Kitty Employee

Hello Kitty drinks

hello kitty napkins


While the pop up has set shop in Southern California, there’s word that the pink truck-cafe will be making its rounds across the US. If you’re a fan, get ready to shell out a few extra dollars as Hello Kitty makes her national conquest of cute.

Hello Kitty Cafe: 670 Spectrum Center Dr, Irvine, CA 92618

Hello Kitty California Cafe

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