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Animaid Cafe 2009

April 17, 2009

Well, I was lucky enough to be able to attend the first ever Animaid Café . Shall I tell you a bit more about my experience?

Like my picture jack from Dq’s site I attended as my alterego, and 1/3 of, Kawaiiclare. We had decided to go in Ouran cosplay (we just had to wear those terrible yellow dresses). Since Fancy India’s online buddy was hosting at the event, we had all three requested him as our host and decided to show up together and just act in general with Ouran’s special brand of ridiculousness. This would later lead to the biggest disappointment of Animaid Café, but I’ll explain that in a moment.

We had some trouble locating the venue at first, and our driver, DQ’s brother, couldn’t find parking. When we arrived it was still rather early, and the café was still being set up. Of course, it was understandable that they be slightly behind schedule due to this being their first event. Everything was nicely decorated, and a greeting had been written on a whiteboard to inform attendees of the reason for the wait, rather than leaving us in the dark, which I felt was very professional.

We saw one line, but were hesitant to join it for two reasons. For the most part, we were just waiting for our “chauffer” to park the car and wait in line with us. We had also purchased advance tickets, and supposedly we weren’t required to wait in any lines, we were just to go to the door. However, since the event was not ready, we thought perhaps the line had been formed as a result of the preparations going on. We weren’t able to get a hold of anyone to ask, though.

As we awaited our chauffer, a very nice Nekomimi Maid told us that we could join the line and wait in the shade if we liked. We got in line at that point. Instead of coming out and declaring the event officially open and asking if anyone present had advance tickets, the people at the door simply began seating the attendees. The line wasn’t horribly long, so this didn’t bother me much. But, what if the line had been long? This was just something I was thinking about as we approached the door.

When we were almost to the front of the line, I noticed the tables were set up to accommodate only two people. This was when I began to worry. We hadn’t been informed at the time we purchased our tickets that tables would seat just two people. Originally, we had planned for it to be the three of us girls. Had we only been a party of 3, I doubt we would have had a problem with seating. Kyosuke was at the door and very politely asked us to wait until they had two tables together for us. I was impressed that they went out of the way to do this for us.

Here we are waiting.

This was where things started to get a little bad, though. At first, we had fun waiting. There was a computer set up with a projector to play some anime and a little live show to entertain us. But once all the tables were full, instead of starting a wait list, they just began to seat people as tables opened up. Now, in a professional restaurant, the Maître d’ usually would not have seated anyone until the two tables opened and the group who arrived first would have been seated first. That being said, I really appreciated that they did make the effort to seat us together. I just really did not like the hour and a half wait, but I feel this is something that can be avoided in the future with a little practice.

We were seated eventually and given our personal maid to serve us. While she was very nice, she was not who we had requested (remember we requested Fancy India’s friend). At this point, I believe it is important to mention that I later went back to check the event’s site and saw there were actually no guarantees made as to which host or maid attendees were served by. How silly that we overlooked this! Be that as it may, our maid seemed a little nervous, but I could sympathize with her, especially since I think it may have been my fault… I was talking to Fancy India about how we might as well just sit down and enjoy ourselves since we had waited so long. I think our maid may have thought I was speaking to her, but I really didn’t mean anything. I felt really bad after that, so I tried to be super nice to her! I hope you read this. I’m sorry!

Next, there was the issue of the food. While I can understand that Animaid Café desired more of a Japanese/ anime feel, some of the choices didn’t seem appropriate. Now, I don’t mean to say they shouldn’t serve Asian or Asian inspired food, what I mean is that there were foods better suited to the atmosphere. For example, serving sandwichs on croissants instead of loaf bread would have added flair, fried rice and spam (which probably wouldn’t have been on my menu at all ^^) could have been fried rice and sausage octopi, the parfaits could have been actual parfaits (with yogurt, not ice cream). These are just little things that could have helped a little, but the biggest no-no was that frozen foods were used instead of freshly prepared foods. One whiff of the fishy smell wafting off my okonomiyaki almost made me not want to eat it, but I decided I should try it before judging it. It was passable, but not the best I’ve tried. However, these people are not professional chefs, so I think it would be unfair to expect perfection, but I don’t think I’m asking for too much when I suggest a small improvement. On the bright side, the menu was very creative and I can tell some thought went into it!

After the lunch, we sadly had to go, because we were late to another engagement. We didn’t get to play a game with our maid, but I was really looking forward to some Sock ‘Em Rock ’em Robots!

But here comes the coolest part! As we were leaving we were approached by a host called Night who asked our opinion of Animaid Café. I hope he got the gist that while we felt there was room for improvement that we really had fun and appreciated their honest effort. I informed him that the thing I liked best was that everyone involved had a positive attitude and did their best. I honestly love that Night approached us. Do you know why? It means he really cared and he wanted to make Animaid Café the best it can be! That is awesome and I commend you for your A+ attitude. That sounds lame, I know, but I’m totally serious. Kudos!

So, what’s my opinion of Animaid Café in a nutshell? It’s a good event that with a little practice and more time can be an amazing event. Keep up the hard work! I didn’t get exactly what I was looking for this time, but next time I’m sure it will be just right.

Things I thought were great:

Everyone working there obviously cared a lot

Everyone had a great attitude and worked hard

Those cute little dances

Everyone matched!

Improvements I would make for next time:

The menu needs a bit more zazz

Two clearly defined lines. One for ticket purchases at the door, another for advanced tickets.

I would have hosts/hostesses, and then some “servers” to help them. This would mean attendees got more face to face time with the host or hostess while the server’s only job would be to take care of the food. This would help the employees out too, I’m sure.

Obviously, this was just a first try, and I can understand that some details still need to be worked out. Overall, it was a good experience. I know that it takes a lot of time, energy, effort, and money to put on an event like this. I hope it worked out for Animaid Café and that they will continue to do events like this. I’ll be looking forward to it.

Edit: I have recently heard that the event really picked up after some of the craziness had subsided. Unfortunately, this occurred after we had left and we missed out on a good time. Oh well, I guess that’s just another reason for me to head back next time!

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