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|Headquarters||Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan|
Butlers Café (バトラースカフェ? Batorāsu Kafe) is a restaurant and bar located in Shibuya, Tokyo, one of Japan's leading fashion centers. The cafe opened in 2006 and was spawned from a recent wave of maid cafés (メイドカフェ? Meido kafe) and cosplay restaurants (コスプレ系飲食店? Kosupure-kei inshokuten) that have opened up in and around Tokyo, though predominantly in Akihabara. Butlers Café is one of a few butler-themed cafes in Tokyo but as of July 2008 is the sole cafe hiring only foreign men as staff. The cafe serves a menu consisting of mainly Italian food, desserts and a range of teas and alcoholic beverages. It was designed for women in Tokyo who "need a bit of fun and excitement in their lives", said the cafe's owner.
The cafe was opened in mid-2006 by Graeme Cooke and Yuki Hirohata, who both had the idea during email conversations. Cooke was teaching English and Hirohata was working as an office lady. Both had a dream of escape to some degree. Maid cafes have been a staple of otaku culture in Japan since they first sprouted in Akihabara, Tokyo's electronic and anime goods shopping center, around 2000. These, and other theme cafes of similar nature have become increasingly popular in Japan and more recently in other countries throughout the world. Since opening, the cafe has attracted over 2,000 frequent customers and has appeared in several publications and media articles. In July 2008 it was featured in a story by CNN which focused on the social aspects of Japanese society, asking why such a cafe is something that Japanese women have been searching for.
The concept behind the cafe, Hirohata says, came to her after interviewing "over 200 women" who all told her that Japanese women "want a cafe where the waiters were male, good-looking, will treat them nice, but most importantly were Western." The cafe claims to be a place of "healing" at an affordable price where Japanese women are provided a "safe setting" to interact with foreign men. The cafe attempts to create an atmosphere reminiscent of a western fairy tale. The butlers treat the customers cordially by opening doors, taking coats and pulling out chairs, and tiaras are even presented with their meal. The butlers, down on bended knee, play games and, when desired, engage in English conversation as entertainment for the "princesses." A 'lift me up photo' is on the menu in which the customer can be lifted by the butler of her choice for a picture they later print out.
Western-style fantasies have long been popular in Japan, an example being the large success of the Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea theme parks since they opened in 1983 and 2001, respectively. The butlers are foreign males, often in their 20s and ideally "cute, cheerful and sweet."
- "White man cafe in Tokyo". CNN. 2008-07-20. Retrieved 2008-07-25.
- "Tokyo cafe taps into women's Prince Charming fantasies". Agence France-Presse. 2008-02-19. Retrieved 2008-07-25.