As soon as the customer enters the bar, attendants dressed as waiter call the visitor like a master and dance as they deliver the dishes, abusing the mannerisms of Japanese anime and parading in colorful aprons and flowing dresses. These are the maid cafes, imported from Japan and starting to arrive in the Liberdade district, in Sao Paulo.
These homes may seem odd to first-time visitors, but they usually grab attention on social media.
Maid Cafes emerged in Japan in the early 2000s, inspired by manga and anime: this is where the way waitresses treat customers come from and also the origin of their clothes, which uses references to butlers and maids of Victorian villas. . In fact, the term “maid” derives from the word “employed” in English.
Despite being popular in an otaku niche, as Japanese pop culture fans are called, these cafes have become tourist attractions in Tokyo and have spread to several countries. In Sao Paulo, in the center of the city, two new maid cafes have recently been opened to welcome lovers of Japanese culture.
One is the casket of wonders, open in August, with a pink facade and assistants wearing kitten ears. As soon as someone enters the shop, he is soon called a master by the attendants. Although maid cafes have only appeared with female attendants, it is already common for men to dress up as well to serve their masters there. But the waiters have another name, they are called butler.
But things start to get more exotic when it turns out that, in addition to food, these masters can also choose the personality of who will serve them. In all, there are 12 types of behavior, all of which are common in anime characters.
The most traditional personality is the “deredere”, the most likeable and affectionate. But you can also choose the “tsundere”, which is thick, but basically pleases the master. Or the “dandere”, introverted and shy. Butlers, on the other hand, are usually a refined prince, but who knows how to treat anyone who arrives at the bar right or wrong.
Before having its own physical space, Chest of Wonders brought the maid café experience to Japanese pop culture events for eight years. “But the recipes were different,” says Karina Cavalcante, one of the members.
Highlights on the menu are now the unicorn and mermaid decorated milkshakes, which cost R $ 22. The star-shaped and strawberry ones cost R $ 20. $ 17, plus savory snacks, such as harusamaid, a typical Japanese salad rice-based noodles (R $ 22).
But the food doesn’t matter, because it’s when it’s time to serve that the magic happens. The waitress or butler delivers the order, but that’s not all. They make drawings of a teddy bear with syrup or ketchup on the plate and pronounce some onomatopoeia in Japanese, followed by kitten and heart gestures. Eventually, they say to the food, “Please make it taste better.”
Even those who don’t seem to fit the scene get caught up in the anime-inspired theater. “When we start talking to these people, they usually start smiling,” says Lumi Kumagai, another owner.
But those who find these moments embarrassing and not cute can order a coffee without the experience. “The goal is to bring comfort to people,” adds Kumagai.
He also says that the restoration tries to move away from the idea of ”sexy waitress” and not to stimulate the fetish of the customers. “We don’t want to have sexual connotations. The idea is to be a safe and nice place.”
So there are some rules. One of them says that maids, butlers and hosts cannot have physical contact. Another prohibits the client from requesting personal data from professionals.
At DokiDoki, another maid café, also open in February in Liberdade, there is only one type of personality: the “deredere”, the most traditional and cute. Suellyne Tsunoda says she had the idea of opening the space with her husband after the two returned from a season in Japan in August last year.
“In Brazil, people know Japanese culture, but it’s usually older, with drums and folk music. It’s great, but there’s a lot of new stuff popping up there,” he says.
DokiDoki has a room with few decorations and ample space between the wooden tables covered with a pink fabric. The wall is painted in pastel tones, as if a coating has dripped from it. There is only a counter at the entrance, with the waitresses always welcoming the public.
While in Chest of Wonders experience – or storytelling, to use a trendy term – says that assistants are cats that wake up and transform into humans to serve their masters, in DokiDoki the maids come from the world of dreams.
There, those who want more attention from employees or have them sit at the table, for example, have to pay extra for it. There are 15 or 30 minute VIP service packages, which cost R $ 10 and R $ 20 respectively.
The menu, of course, is also inspired by Japan. Omuraisu, an omelette stuffed with fried rice and chicken, costs R $ 30, while karê, which costs R $ 35, has a pink version with chicken pieces. The whole is decorated with panda-shaped rice and the usual hearts.
After all, the idea is to try to attract the audience by watching and caring. Or rather, attract the masters.
Chest of Wonders
R. Galvão Bueno, 580, Liberdade, central region, chestmaids.cafe. Reservations on weekends
R. Galvão Bueno, 351, second floor, Liberdade, central region, @dokimaidcafe