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There’s a Hello Kitty café, cocktail bar and tearoom headed to Irvine this week

Hello Kitty cocktail bar in Irvine's Hello Kitty Grand Cafe
Photograph: Courtesy Sanrio/Jakob N. Layman

The best things in life are pink, or at least they are when it comes to the world of Sanrio’s iconic kitten. This Friday, fans of Hello Kitty—the brand’s too-cute-for-her-own-good cartoon character—can get a taste of these sweeter, pinker, bow-topped things when Sanrio launches Hello Kitty Grand Cafe and the Bow Room at Hello Kitty Grand Cafe: the company’s first permanent dual-concept food-and-drink outpost, and one that involves a full-fledged cocktail bar.

Situated in the Irvine Spectrum Center, near the Ferris wheel, Grand Cafe offers a 12-seat, pink-accented space dotted with Hello Kitty art created just for this concept. It’s here you can snag a few Hello Kitty Cafe staples—such as the cookie “pocket pies,” shaped like the brand’s eponymous cat and littered with sprinkles—in addition to a few new, exclusive items. Currently there are Hello Kitty Cafe offshoots in San Diego, San Jose and Rancho Cucamonga, and café trucks roaming the country, but it’s only at Irvine’s Grand Cafe that you can order the new made-to-order mini doughnuts—in cinnamon sugar, matcha, and cookies and cream flavors—and sets of Sanrio character mini cakes.

Photograph: Courtesy Sanrio/Jakob N. Layman

 Hello Kitty’s cutesy new café

Look to the back of the café to find the hidden room, marked only by a bow-shaped door knocker. But before you enter, you’re going to need a reservation; the Bow Room at Hello Kitty Grand Cafe splits its concepts by day and night, but both require some advance notice.

During the day—from Wednesday to Sunday—the space hosts afternoon tea service, where the $55-per-person tea extravaganza includes Hello Kitty-shaped tiers of fresh fruit, finger sandwiches and teacakes, and 15 specialty teas to choose from. There are buttermilk scones, raspberry macarons, cucumber and dill cream cheese sandwiches on milk bread, smoked salmon on pretzel croissants, pesto tarts and more, and you can sip through the selection with bow-topped teapots of masala chai, lychee peach, jasmine, Japanese cherry or organic fair-trade Egyptian chamomile tea, among others.

Photograph: Courtesy Sanrio/Jakob N. Layman

There’s even wine available by the glass or bottle (for those who prefer their tea just be a mimosa), though if you’re hoping for a boozy visit, we recommend you wait a few hours for the transformation from tearoom to cocktail bar. 

In the evenings, also from Wednesday to Sunday, the lights dim and the all-pink space flips to an intimate 21+ bar that’s illuminated by an enormous marble likeness of Hello Kitty. The cocktails—which run $14 to $21—are on-brand adorable as ever, and include the Aloha Kitty (vodka, pineapple, yellow charteuse and lime, served in a tiki-inspired ceramic mug), the Whisker Sour (whiskey, lemon, aquafaba and Bigallet China-China liqueur) and the Matcha Matcha (Japanese whiskey with yogurt, matcha and yuzu).

Photograph: Courtesy Sanrio/Jakob N. Layman

Those still looking for wine can find it here, too—along with a strawberries-and-champagne option—and a few of the wines on offer come by way of Hello Kitty’s own label.

Take a peek inside here, then stop by the café or reserve your afternoon tea or cocktails to see it for yourself:

Photograph: Courtesy Sanrio/Jakob N. Layman

The Bow Room’s afternoon-tea spread

Photograph: Courtesy Sanrio/Jakob N. Layman

Seating inside the Bow Room in the evening

Photograph: Courtesy Sanrio/Jakob N. Layman

Aloha Kitty cocktails

Photograph: Courtesy Sanrio/Jakob N. Layman

Photograph: Courtesy Sanrio/Jakob N. Layman

Glimpses of afternoon tea

Photograph: Courtesy Sanrio/Jakob N. Layman

The café’s sweets case

Hello Kitty Grand Cafe and the Bow Room at Hello Kitty Grand Cafe open on Friday, September 14, within the Irvine Spectrum Center at 670 Spectrum Center Dr. Hello Kitty Grand Cafe keeps hours of 11am to 9pm Monday to Thursday; 11am to 10:30pm on Friday; 10am to 10:30pm on Saturday; and 10am to 9pm on Sunday. Find the Bow Room open for afternoon tea service from 11am to 4pm Wednesday to Friday; and 10am to 4pm Saturday and Sunday. For the Bow Room’s bar, expect hours of 5 to 9pm on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday; and 5 to 11pm on Friday and Saturday.

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