I Attended the Hello Kitty Cafe Opening–and It Was Expectedly Purrfect
Real talk: Who doesn't love Hello Kitty?
That said, you can only imagine the excitement I experienced when I had VIP access to the grand opening of the Queen of All Cats' Cafe Pop-Up Container on Friday afternoon. The finished product was two years in the making, and with one look at the space and its intricate detail, there's no question why it took so long.
The 1.5-hour trek from Los Angeles to the Irvine Spectrum in Orange County was entirely worth it, as I had a chance to frolic in a colorful wonderland, bypass the slew of hopeful attendees in line, take photos galore and even sit at my very own reserved table, while noshing on Hello Kitty-themed treats (note: the cafe's managing partner Allan Tea told me he highly recommends the hand pies [Nutella and mixed berry flavors]: "They're kind of an homage to the Pop Tart").
Guests were in awe, as they pranced around in Hello Kitty paper crowns they were given upon pink paradise line entry. Some lucky folks (myself included!) even managed to walk away with an extra special gift bag that was entirely Hello Kitty-themed. It included a paper lunch box, a perfectly packaged water bottle, a cookie that was too cute to eat (but it was scorching outside, so when the frosting began to melt, I figured that was my cue to sink my teeth in), a ticket for a free drink and treat and, most importantly, the cutest little coffee mug I ever did see!
One of the best parts of the day was having the opportunity to get acquainted with David Marchi, the Vice President of Brand Management and Marketing for Sanrio (of course I was at the event for HK, but I also happen to be a major Keroppi lover!). David personally loves the birthday cake treat most.
"First of all, it's a birthday cake," he emphasized to me as my mouth began to water. "It looks amazing, and it tastes amazing, too. It was just one of those things we knew would be good. It looks cute and it tastes so good."
With so many Hello Kitty devotees all over the country, I was curious how the Spectrum, of all places, became the lucky home to such a marketable venture.
"We know we have a huge, huge, loving fanbase here in Orange County," David explained. "When the Hello Kitty truck has made appearances here, they've seen a lot of love. So the Irvine Spectrum company has kind of recognized that, and they've been very inviting to work with us. They were all over it. They get it, and they see the love and this is a beautiful spot."
Going back to the two-years-in-the-works point, Marchi described the "very long and loving evolutionary process" that went into creating this incredible haven for Hello Kitty's biggest fans.
"Like everything we do at Sanrio, we want to make it special," he said. "We pay attention to the details. We do it for the fans. We're all fans ourselves, so we want to make it good. Even from the design of the container, to the menu items, there were long and rigorous and lengthy conversations about everything from the napkins to the shape of the items, to what the items should be, to the taste. Lots and lots of taste-testing. We knew it needed to look cute, and it obviously needed to taste good and everything needed to be quality."
If you weren't among the droves of fans who braved the heat over the weekend to check out the incredible space, you still have time! Hello Kitty Cafe will be open for a year, and the Irvine Spectrum is one of the cleanest, biggest, most beautiful outdoor shopping malls I have visited–so following your Facebook-friendly photo sesh with your fave feline, there's plenty more to explore in the area if you're coming from afar.
While we're on the topic of all things Hello Kitty, we totes want its MAC collaboration to make a comeback! We included it HERE on our list of Character-Inspired Makeup Collections We Will Love Forever.