The Problem With Maid Cafes In The United States

American Maid Cafes

Photo by Vincent Diamante


The Appeal of Maid Cafes in the United States.

You know, there’s something about the idea of Japanese Maid Cafés that’s exciting. Cute girls, dressed in what could only be considered Lolita maid outfits being… well, being nice to me.  And for a socially inept otaku like me, that can mean a lot.

For instance, I remember when I went to the first (and only) maid cafe I’d ever been to, at a small convention I was working called ‘Anime Conji.’ I walked into the venue and was hit by so much devastating cuteness.  You wouldn’t believe it.  The maids were cute, the food was cute, hell even the walls were a super-cute shade of pink.

It was the most horrifying experience of my life.

I learned something about myself that day.  First, I have really low self-esteem…


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten this look after asking a girl out.

…and secondly, I don’t trust people who are nice to me for what seems to be no reason.

The two are connected.  I certainly don’t blame anybody for being customer service oriented and any discomfort I felt was certainly a creation of my own broken psyche but it got me to thinking.

There have to be otaku who aren’t introverted like me and to whom the idea of talking to a pretty girl without fear of rejection is a good thing, right?  You’d think that there would be a market for such a place for lonely nerds to frequent, right?

So why aren’t there many maid cafes here in the states?

The best explanation I’ve seen so far was offered over at Keripo’s Corner.  He posits the following:

What’s considered “Taboo” in Japan is Mainstream in the US

A maids uniform in a café is pretty tame according to US standards, while it can be titillating in Japan.  For an otaku in Japan, the most skin you may see in a maid café would probably be the arms or the Absolute Zone (also known as zettai ryōiki).

Zettai Ryouiki

The higher the sock, the sexier.

Anything more than that would be overkill, and considered hentai probably.  But to an American otaku, who has been raised to believe that thinking about sex makes you a pervert, yet has also been conditioned to also believe that a chainmail bikini counts as “armor,” the maid just isn’t as sexy.

Red Sonja

Why imagine what a pretty girl loks like naked, when you can walk down the street and see for yourself?

Lack of Engagement

Another reason maid cafes aren’t as prevalent here in the States may be that as a culture, the American otaku isn’t used to engaging with a pretty girl the way a Japanese otaku would.

For example, in Japan, the maids are expected to interact with their patrons by playing little games or singing karaoke or the like.  The closest I’ve seen to that is the waitresses at Hooter’s Hula Hooping, or a stripper in the Champagne room, but it’s not the same.  It’s true that in the case of the stripper and the maid, there is an extra fee implied (and in the case of the Hooters waitress they do it for the tips).

In the case of the maid, they are trained to pretend that they like the patron.  In the case of the stripper or the hot waitress, they are trained to pretend that they want to have sex with you.  And in the case of the otaku in the US, we are trained to try to get laid while in Japan, otaku

And in the case of the otaku in the US, we are trained to try to get laid while in Japan, otaku are trained to want to be married and serve the society.

In other words, to be liked.  Try to open a place where the goal is to sell love in a society that is programmed to buy lust and that placce will not last very long, which is why you don’t see a lot of stand alone maid cafes in the United States.

But this is just my opinion.  My real question is; why do you think that there are not so many maid cafes in the United States?  I’d love to know your opinion in the comments.