Meido Kissa: App State’s first maid cafe

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K. Slade

The Japanese Culture Club Executive Board for Fall 2022 dressed in maid attire for the maid cafe.

K. Slade, Reporter

Maids in black and white dresses, garter belts and pigtails rushed to serve guests fluffy yogurt cakes and cartons of strawberry milk. Frilly tablecloths lined the surfaces and faux flowers accentuated the cafe tables. 

The university’s Japanese Culture Club extended their services from 4-7 p.m. on  Saturday in their first ever maid cafe, hosted in Plemmons Student Union’s Parkway Ballroom. 

Five dollars granted guests entry, a raffle ticket and access to various activities. With an additional $3, guests could pick a savory or sweet Japanese snack. The club’s executive board donned maid and butler costumes to dote on every guest.   

For an extra dollar, attendees could volunteer their favorite maid to perform a karaoke song. 

Maid cafes, a subcategory of cosplay services in Japan, have waiters dress in maid or butler outfits and serve the customers. While cosplay cafes originally existed to cater to the otaku fantasy, in more recent years this phenomenon has transformed into a tourist attraction and less for the male gaze. 

As soon as he became JCC’s president, Matthew Fergerson, a senior finance and banking major, conceptualized the idea of a maid cafe fundraiser over the summer. The event is to raise money for next semester activities for club members.   

“I was like, what better way than to make a fool of ourselves and raise money and maybe educate people on some cultural things,” Fergerson said. 

Some members, such as Vice President Katelyn McHale and International Chair Emma Willie, initially thought the fundraiser idea was a joke. 

“I didn’t think that we’d actually get it up and running,” McHale said. “But, look at us. We did it.”    

Figuring out the logistics of booking the cafe space, working with university fundraising policies and deciding which Japanese snacks to serve was a collective effort by each executive member. Decorations were reused from cherry blossom festivals previously hosted by the club. 

“I have worked in, like, customer service and worked in retail for two years however, we didn’t have to plan anything for that,” said Joanna McConnell, the JCC public relations chair. “This was all on us. Definitely 30 minutes before, I was like “Oh god, what if no one shows up? What are we gonna do?’”

The executive board, despite a rainy Saturday and simmering anxieties, held an air of excitement around being the ones to serve their peers. 

“On an average day, you don’t really get to dress up as maids and serve people food for fundraising purposes, so we’re excited in that aspect,” McHale said.   

The snack table consisted of authentic sweets such as fruit jellies, pocky, Hello Panda cookies, canned coffees and Ramune, bottled soda sealed with a glass marble. 

The maid cafe’s assorted snack table. (K. Slade)

Special edition Sanrio and Naruto Ramune sodas were included in a raffle held at the end of the event. 

In the end, guest tables were filled with groups of people playing board games, enjoying the food or poking fun at their unusually dressed friends. 

“I’m a little nervous just because I’ve never dressed up in a maid outfit, or a dress to be honest,” JCC ambassador chair Nathan Goenaga said. “ I’m a little nervous to look my friends in the eye and serve them food. It’s going to be strange but I’m pretty excited for it.”  

Aidan Issac, JCC’s secretary, wore black and neon green basketball shorts underneath his dress for more coverage. 

“I was nervous my parents would look at the Amazon purchase and be like ‘What is this?’ I actually made a different Amazon account to buy it,” said Issac, who is a senior creative writing major.  

Beyond the initial anxiety of walking around in a maid costume, Issac relied on his past customer service experience to guide him. 

“I’ve gotten used to it by now but first, putting it on and like walking to the bathroom? Terrifying.” Issac said.  

With 41 people in attendance, McHale said another maid cafe is a possibility based on the first one’s success.