The temporary cafe, initially expected to debut over the holidays, opened at 11 a.m. today. It was so popular, drawing a line of about 200 people, the store temporarily shuttered. It was expected to reopen later in the day, according to a representative at Spectrum Center.
The cafe is housed in a bedazzled steel shipping container — refurbished with pink and white Hello Kitty hues. The menu features a limited assortment of cookies, pastries and pint-sized cakes, as well as hot and cold beverages.
Signature drinks include strawberry mint lemonade, peach iced tea and passion fruit tea. Espresso drinks feature coffee sourced from award-winning local roaster Portola Coffee Lab. Menu prices range from $4 to $11.50 for desserts, and $3 to $5.50 for beverages. (Note: Coffee comes only in a 16 oz. size. Sorry skim fans, but only whole milk is served here.)
Every item on the menu pays homage to the pop icon, first introduced to the world 42 years ago. Pastries are topped with Hello Kitty-shaped shortbread cookies, or bows. Plastic water bottles ($3) are bow-shaped. Hello Kitty’s face is stenciled with cocoa powder on the milk foam of latte drinks.
Allan Tea, managing partner of the cafe, said the container will stay at the Irvine mall for a year before moving on to its next location. Tea and Sanrio marketing representative David Marchi said Sanrio and the Irvine Co. are in negotiations to bring the first U.S.-based brick and mortar Hello Kitty Cafe to Irvine.
Sanrio has other themed cafes in other countries. But there’s no brick and mortar cafe dedicated exclusively to Hello Kitty in the United States, Marchi said. “This (pop-up) is the first of its kind,” he said.
Over the last 12 months, the Hello Kitty food truck has parked at the center twice, triggering throngs of shoppers. The turnout prompted Sanrio to choose the Spectrum as home base for its first Hello Kitty pop-up cafe.
“We know we have a huge fan base here,” Marchi said.
The cafe does not sell savory dishes — only desserts. Some merchandise such as ceramic mugs and T-shirts also will be sold at the cafe, located at the Giant Wheel Court at the mall.
The first 50 customers each day through Sunday will get a limited edition key chain.