Southern California Says Hello to First Hello Kitty Grand Cafe

Jakob Layman/Sanrio
The Bow Room at Hello Kitty Grand Cafe, which serves tea during the day and cocktails at night.

Plus, The Creme Shop debuts Hello Kitty-themed cosmetics.

Southern California is seeing a Sanrio resurgence.

Hello Kitty and her furry friends are consuming more of the lifestyle space with the opening of the first Hello Kitty Grand Cafe at the Irvine Spectrum shopping center and the upcoming launch of The Creme Shop's Sanrio makeup line.

Forget cat cafes — the Grand Cafe, opening Friday, will present a “supercute” menu of cakes, donuts and other pastries themed around the Japanese cartoon.

The brand previously created a dessert food truck in 2014, but soon guests can experience afternoon tea ($55 per person, by reservation only) with tea sandwiches like the cucumber cream cheese and creamy egg salad, along with scones and macarons with bows. On offer are Hello Kitty cookies and petit fours shaped like her pals, from green frog Keroppi to brown feline Chococat. 

For adult Kitty lovers, The Bow Room at the Hello Kitty Grand Cafe becomes a cocktail bar at night, offering drinks between $14 and $21 each, including the whisker sour (whiskey, lemon, aquafaba), matcha matcha (Japanese whiskey, yogurt, matcha) and aloha kitty (vodka, pineapple, yellow chartreuse, lime). 

“Hello Kitty Cafe is an integral extension of the Hello Kitty brand as we continue to evolve and diversify our consumer touchpoints,” said Sanrio COO Craig Takiguchi in a statement. “As the first brick-and-mortar cafe concept of its kind in the U.S., Hello Kitty Grand Cafe combines our signature fast-causal setting with an all-new immersive dining experience. … We look forward to debuting the latest evolution of Hello Kitty Cafe as a new destination in Southern California.”

Its location, the Irvine Spectrum Center, is evocative of The Grove or Third Street Promenade with palms, fountains and a Ferris wheel. The cafe fits in with the trend toward experiential brand marketing, from Disneyland more than 60 years ago to Harry Potter World at Universal Studios in 2016 to the Ice Cream Museum last year. 

On Monday night, the Grand Cafe's Hello Kitty treats were on display at the launch party for The Creme Shop’s Sanrio collection at West Hollywood's Hyde Sunset. Its cutesy cosmetic products, all $15 or less, go on sale Oct. 1.

The cruelty-free South Korean beauty brand hosted a party debuting its take on the Sanrio family. Characters My Melody, Gudetama, Cinnamoroll, Chococat and of course Hello Kitty appeared on sleep masks, macaron-shaped lip balms, makeup wipes, bath bombs (with a surprise toy inside), virgin eyelashes and Korean sheet masks.

Fans admired the Hello Kitty Cafe petit fours and tested the green tea, peach and cake scented "Handy Dandy Cream" shea butter lotions. A machine printed guests’ selfies onto cookies, as they sipped concoctions like the Pretty Hello Kitty cocktail with Absolut Elyx vodka, ginger ale and Thai basil leaves or the Cremecoction with Kahlua and cream.