Ideas & Advice

Want a Hello Kitty or Harry Potter cafe wedding?

A fan of My Melody, Gudetama or Harry Potter? These themed cafes are great for your pre-wedding parties, a quirky solemnisation ceremony or even an alternative venue for a cosy wedding!

The sweet scent of strawberries hits you even before you see the pink booth seats, followed by equally pink food.

Children squeal excitedly, while adults snap photos of cutesy food and drinks adorned with macarons, pink sprinkles and ingredients cut into shapes of flowers.

Welcome to the latest character cafe in town - My Melody Cafe, home to Sanrio's adorable bunny - which opened in Suntec City this month.

It is by food and beverage company Eggs & More, which also runs the Gudetama Cafe featuring the lazy egg, another Sanrio character.

It adds to the slew of themed cafes, all with interiors and food designed to capture attention on social media.

Others include the Hello Kitty Orchid Garden at Changi Airport's Terminal 3; wizard-themed Platform 1094 in Serangoon Road; and Japanese-French-inspired cafe Kumoya's current pop-up concept in collaboration with Japanese lifestyle brand tokidoki.

See also: FLOATING CANDLES TO QUIDDITCH MATCHES: 16 STYLISH WAYS TO HAVE A HARRY POTTER THEMED WEDDING

Kumoya's next pop-up collaboration features characters from the Mr Men And Little Miss series of children's books.

But while new cafes continue to open, others have closed. These include eateries featuring Sanrio's chubby puppy Cinnamoroll and golden retriever Pompompurin, as well as the colourful Care Bears, Pokemon and Minions, the popular yellow creatures from the Despicable Me films.

Most of them last for about three months, although some lasted longer, like Pompompurin Cafe's 11/2 years.

Mr Joseph Koh, 42, creative director of Kumoya says themed cafes have a "limited lifespan". So Kumoya does a pop-up with the characters instead, for three months each time.

It had brought in Cinnamoroll, Miffy rabbit and Care Bears.

He says: "There will always be space for themed character cafes."

 

Ms Anna Lim, 42, director of Eggs & More, agrees. She took over Gudetama Cafe's neighbouring unit to open My Melody Cafe and it is packing in the crowds.

Expect to queue at least 30 minutes to get into the 38-seat cafe done up to look like a garden.

Her plan is to run My Melody Cafe till the end of this year, because "newness is important".

The 19-month-old Gudetama Cafe, however, is permanent because of its "universal appeal across all ages and gender".

For My Melody Cafe, Ms Lim says the Sanrio team was "very particular" about the design, down to the facial features and hue of pink and the type of artificial strawberries used for decoration.

But running a character cafe has its advantages.

Ms Lim says: "It was easier to hire staff because they are already fans of the characters. For once, I had no manpower issues.

"Also, you get an instant customer base and free publicity via social media."

The trick is to stay relevant with new characters or dishes.

The two-year-old Hello Kitty Orchid Garden has seen more than 300,000 customers.

Ms Fiona Chin, 32, assistant marketing manager for Europa Specialty Restaurants which owns the eatery, says: "Character cafes offer a unique and fun experience.

"One of the biggest challenges we face is making sure that when customers return, there is something new on the menu for them to try."

The eatery is currently offering a special menu created for the Ramadan and Hari Raya season.

Housewife Mabel Tan, 43, a fan of Sanrio characters, looks forward to new character cafes opening.

She has taken her two daughters, aged eight and four, to the Hello Kitty Orchid Garden, Gudetama Cafe, Care Bears and Pompompurin cafes.

She says: "I like going to these character cafes because of the adorable decoration of the food.

"The food does not taste fantastic, but I appreciate the effort that goes into the presentation.

"I'll be heading to My Melody Cafe soon."

See also: 7 CAFE OR OUTDOOR WEDDING PLANNING DETAILS YOU MAY HAVE OVERLOOKED

This article was originally published in The Straits Times