First Hello Kitty ‘pop-up’ cafe opens in Irvine

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OC Register (by Nancy Luna):
Sanrio will open the first Hello Kitty Cafe Pop-Up Container in the U.S. at the Irvine Spectrum Center on Friday. Housed within a metal shipping container, the pop-up cafe sells an assortment of baked goods, pastries, cookies and espresso drinks featuring Portola Coffee Lab coffee.NANCY LUNA, STAFF
About the cafe:

The Hello Kitty Cafe Pop-Up is having its grand opening this weekend at the Irvine Spectrum, in the Giant Wheel Court.

Its hours are:

Monday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Friday: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Saturday: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Sunday: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

Jollibee, the king of Filipino fast food, will open in Manhattan

Jollibee's first Manhattan location will be in midtown.
Jollibee’s first Manhattan location will be in midtown.

Grub Street (by Chris Crowley):

Midtown continues to transform into the epicenter of the world’s favorite fast-food chains. Jollibee, the Filipino fast-food behemoth with nearly 900 locations around the world, will open its first Manhattan location this fall at 609 Eighth Avenue near the Port Authority. This, however, is a slightly more interesting development than the arrival of something like an Arby’s or another Chick-fil-A: Along with Amazing Aloha Champ burgers, flavored fries, and extremely popular fried chicken, the international chain also serves more distinctively Filipino fare like garlic-marinated milkfish, and spaghetti and rice.

The new location will presumably be mobbed from the get-go. Of course, if New Yorkers love one thing it’s waiting a really long time for food — and there’s reason to expect them here. When Jollibee’s first New York location opened in Woodside, Queens, back in 2009, fans formed the kind of waitsusually reserved for novelty foods and stunt pastries.

First Carl’s Jr. opens in Tokyo’s Akihabara district, massive line-up ensues


RocketNews 24/Business Wire:

CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc. (CKE), parent company of Carl’s Jr.® and Hardee’s®, continues its impressive international growth with the opening of its first Carl’s Jr. restaurant in Japan.

Perhaps influenced by the weak footing of McDonald’s last year, it seems a steady stream of US franchises such as Taco Bell and Shake Shack have been crossing the Pacific and setting up shop in Tokyo. On 4 March, it was to be major burger chain Carl’s Jr. coming the otaku mecca of Akihabara.

This marks the first of a multi-unit development agreement between CKE and Mitsuuroko Group Holdings Co., Ltd. to develop 150 Carl’s Jr. restaurants in Japan over the next 10 years. As part of the development deal, Carl’s Jr. restaurants also are scheduled to open in Azabujyuban, Odaiba, Shibuya and Roppongi.

“Japan is the largest burger market in Asia and Japanese consumers are well known for their passionate enthusiasm for quality, great tasting food. The Carl’s Jr. brand and menu are perfectly positioned for Japan as we offer bigger, better tasting, chargrilled burgers served with high quality, fresh ingredients and best-in-class customer service,” said Ned Lyerly, President, International at CKE. “We partnered with the Mitsuuroko Group as our Master Franchisee in Japan to establish our brand across the country and we are confident in our collective ability to deliver to a superior level of guest satisfaction in our restaurants.”

“Carl’s Jr. fills a major void in the Japanese burger market. There’s no other global burger chain that offers such premium and innovative menu items served with industry leading customer service. What’s more is the brand exudes a cool, youthful and edgy persona that will resonate with Japan’s burger lovers of all ages,” said Mr. Kohei Tajima, the CEO of MGHD. “We are honored to open the first Carl’s Jr. in Japan and look forward to elevating the brand’s presence in the market over the next decade.”

Open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., the Carl’s Jr. restaurant in Akihabara will offer innovative breakfast, lunch and dinner menu items including the brand’s signature line of 100% Angus Beef Thickburgers, such as the Western Bacon Cheeseburger and Jalapeno Thickburger, along with Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders and Hand-Scooped Ice Cream Shakes. The restaurant will also offer complimentary Wi-Fi, a refillable beverage bar and draft beer.

To celebrate the arrival of Carl’s Jr. in Japan, the restaurant will give away “A Year’s Worth of Free Burgers” to the first 50 people through the door on opening day. This popular promotion is well-loved by fans around the world with some of them lining up days before the restaurant opens.

Key facts about Carl’s Jr. in Akihabara

  • Address: 4-4-3, Sotokanda Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
  • Hours of operation: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily; breakfast hours: 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. daily
  • Menu features:
    • Carl’s Jr.’s signature line of 100 percent Angus Beef Thickburgers®
    • High-quality, all-white-meat Chargrilled and Hand-Breaded Chicken
    • Hand-Scooped Ice Cream Shakes™
    • Refillable beverage bar
  • Special amenities:
    • Complimentary Wi-Fi

Hong Kong’s ‘McDonald’s Next’  concept elevates ‘Create Your Taste’ dining

McDonald's Hong Kong Create Your Taste burger menu

Brand Channel: (by Abe Sauer)

Dubbed ‘McDonald’s Next,’ the fast food titan reveals a striking new restaurant concept with the launch of its latest Hong Kong location.

McDonald’s first opened its doors in Hong Kong in 1975. Fast-forward 40 years and McDonald’s is pioneering a new dining concept it’s calling McDonald’s Next in the bustling city on the South China Sea.

Billed as a “food bar,” the open-concept eatery is located in the city’s Admiralty area, a major shopping hub (and hang-out for youths) near the main Central district on Hong Kong Island.

McDonald's Next Hong Kong digital create your taste ordering kiosk touchscreen

While a handful of McDonald’s in Hong Kong already offer Create Your Taste digital ordering, the McDonald’s Next location in Admiralty (taglines include: “What’s Next is Now” and “Your creation. Made by us. Worth the wait”) is offering a whole new level of personalization and customer experience for the brand.

McDonald's Next Hong Kong Create Your Taste theater kitchen

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In addition to being open until 1:00 a.m. and offering free mobile device charging and table service after 6:00 pm, what makes the Admiralty location unique is the personalization, interactive design and social nature of the dining experience.

McDonald's Next personalized Hong Kong table service Create Your Taste

Almost like a sushi bar in appearance, customers sidle up to the counter (which McDonald’s calls a theater kitchen) to design and order on touchscreens their customized salads and burgers from the DIY “Create Your Taste” menu that launched in Hong Kong in 2014.

McDonald's Hong Kong Next Create Your Taste #createyourtastehk

McDonald's Next Hong Kong customer #createyourtastehk #cyt

As in other CYT locations, the food is served on a wooden plank with a toothpick flag impaling the burger bun and the fries in mesh wire baskets.

The integrated McCafe menu also includes gourmet coffee in smartly designed packaging, such as premium Ethiopian Sidamo coffee beans bagged in a style that would make third wave coffee snobs swoon.

On the tables, customers will find various makes of charging cords for mobile devices to rejuice their ever-present smartphones.

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Coffee beverages served with latte foam art depicting characters in a marketing tie-in with the new Peanuts movie and a gingerbread man design, part of the local “Hug the Moment” holiday campaign.

McDonald's Next Hong Kong DIY salad Snoopy foam latte

Kentucky Fried Chicken set to open all-you-can eat buffet restaurant in Japan

RocketNews 24 (by Casey Baseel):

If you’re walking into a branch of KFC, it’s a pretty safe bet that you’re there to eat fried chicken. You could even argue that the whole process of ordering is partially redundant, since the question isn’t whether you want some of the Colonel’s deep-fried bird, but simply how much.

And if your answer to that query is “All of it,” then head on over to Osaka, where the first all-you-can-eat Kentucky Fried Chicken buffet is about to open.

Actually, KFC and Osaka go way back. Not only is the local baseball team, the Hanshin Tigers, said to be cursed following some of its rowdy fans tossing a statue of Colonel Sanders into a river 30 years ago (which was also the last time the Tigers won the Japan Series), in 1970 Osaka hosted the Japan World Exposition. Inside the event’s United States pavilion was a Kentucky Fried Chicken trial restaurant, the very first to operate in Japan.

45 years later, the Expo City entertainment complex is set to open in the Expo ’70 Commemorative Park, and from November 19 one of its tenants will be a buffet-style KFC restaurant.

For 90 minutes, diners will be able to enjoy all the Colonel’s original recipe chicken they can eat, along with roughly 60 other menu items. In addition to standards such as fresh-baked biscuits and cole slaw, the restaurant will also serve rotisserie chicken, soup, salad, and macaroni and cheese made according to a recipe from Colonel Sanders himself. For dessert, there will be a selection of fruit, cake, and other sweets.

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KFC is also promising an atmosphere of Southern hospitality, which in addition to piles of fried chicken means a woody interior and Colonel Sander’s actual suit on display, since the late chicken mogul’s iconic duds are now in Japan.

Adult prices range from 1,880 to 2,480 yen (US$16-$21), with weekday afternoons being the lowest-price dining time and weekend evenings the highest. Children between the ages of 4 and 12 eat for reduced prices, and those under 4 dine for free.

Restaurant information
Kentucky Fried Chicken Lalaport Expo City /ケンタッキーフライドチキン ららぽーとEXPOCITY店
Address: Osaka-fu, Suitashi-shi, Senribanpaku Kouen 2-1
大阪府吹田市千里万博公園2-1
Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m.