by Liz Shepherd
Young women in brightly colored maid dresses greet their customers with this saying, welcoming home their masters and mistresses. They bow to them, gesturing toward the dinner and entertainment that awaits, while butlers lead guests to tables adorned in white tablecloths. An hour’s visit includes a meal consisting of a drink, ramen, and dessert, as well as a dance performance and service from a maid.
For those who are nervous to go to a maid cafe, or don’t know anything about it, Neko wo Kaburu, a maid cafe based out of Indianapolis, is a well organized institution that makes its customers feel at home. At the maid cafe, clients can purchase a one hour time slot for $10. After being seated, people are then introduced to their maid(s) and asked to select a drink from options including ramune and bubble tea. Once everyone has their drinks, a maid leads the table in chanting spells that supposedly help make the drinks taste better. Different spells are also recited for the main course, a ramen bowl, and dessert.
Jasmine Del and Courtney Pollard, the owners of Neko wo Kaburu, are proud of their accomplishments with the maid cafe so far.
“We wanted to bring something to the anime community. It is our dream to pump some life back into the scene, which we feel is dying, or losing base with Japan. Opening a maid cafe is a great way, at least we feel, to help get back in touch with Japan, and bring something wonderful to the many fans,” Pollard said.
“It took a lot of heart and hard work. We scouted some young girls and guys who had the same passions and matching personalities. It took months of training and working ours and their tails off. We’re glad to say it all paid off,” Del said.
And the success has shown. Anime Crossroads, an anime convention held in February, was very successful for Neko wo Kaburu.
“We were a lot bigger than we could have imagined! We were treated so nicely by the staff of A-Cross as well as all of the guests. We were fortunate to have the voice actors come in and they really enjoyed us, so it was a really great success!” Pollard said.
Both Del and Pollard proud of what they have done so far, and have one main long-term goal for the maid cafe.
“We plan for our maids and butlers to become well-known for all their talents. They are all so talented and sweet. We hope one day that they’ll become maid idols in the U.S.,” Del said.
Neko wo Kaburu has eight maids and four butlers, and is currently hiring. Butler Yuuji and Head Maid Ghostie, employees at the maid cafe, enjoy entertaining guests.
“It’s a magical experience where you can go and witness a whole new world away. It’s unlike any other dining experience and I’m happy that we can bring this culture out of Akihabara,” Head Maid Ghostie said.
“I love being able to entertain guests and seeing the crowd’s reactions,” Butler Yuuji said.
According to Del, those interested in working at Neko wo Kaburu need to consider the effort it takes to be an employee.
“It requires one to sacriﬁce a lot. Applicants have to understand that if you’re with NWK, it may be a while before you’d actually get to enjoy a convention we work at,” Del said.
The maids, with their polite voices and innocent mannerisms, play games with the customers, such as cards or traditional Japanese games. They apologize for any spill or messes, even when they’re not at fault, and giggle whenever a customer tells a joke. At the end of the time slot, two or three maids perform a dance for all of the customers that’s accompanied by various J-pop songs. The kindness and attentiveness of both the maids and butlers at Neko wo Kaburu makes the experience unique and enjoyable.
“[Neko wo Kaburu] is not just girls and guys cosplaying, it’s a real maid cafe devoted to making sure you have a wonderful time. The staff is adorable, you get food, and see a wonderful performance. You’d be crazy not to make room for it!” Pollard said.
Neko wo Kaburu is a convention-only establishment, and will be at EvilleCon in Evansville, Indiana from March 27 – 29. To learn more or to apply for a staff position check out Neko wo Kaburu’s Facebook page.