You are taking a stroll in downtown Detroit searching for a place to relax and enjoy a cup of tea. You walk into a café with women dressed in adorable maid outfits, Hello Kitty candy on the shelves, handmade frilly hair bows and jewelry on display, and anime playing on the television. This is the Chou Anime Café located on Woodward Avenue.
The bright and bubbly décor makes Chou Anime Café both a peaceful and playful place to enjoy a hot drink while being served by girls who are dressed in ridiculously cute costumes. The café is separated into a quaint area to eat, and an area to shop for anime-related items.
This is not a place you come just for the food; you come here for the experience. The maids greet customers in Japanese as they walk through the door and play games with them while they enjoy Japanese-style pastries.
The menu here is very small and dense. It consists mainly of coffee, lemon pan, and red bean pan which is a small pastry stuffed with a sweet red bean paste. The café also serves ramune, a popular Japanese carbonated drink. The available items are for those who have a big enough sweet tooth to enjoy a cupcake adorned with pocky, which makes the café seem geared towards a younger audience. Chou Anime Café owner Oneka Samet said the menu was inspired by food items that are commonly featured in anime and manga series.
The café is very focused on supporting and promoting the local community. While the pan bread items and ramune are Japanese imports, the café serves salads and wraps that are made from local produce and ingredients. Even the Chou Anime logo was created by a student of the College for Creative Studies located in Detroit. In addition to serving sweet treats and tea, the café also sells adornments handcrafted by the maids and Samet herself. This includes hair bows, bracelets, cupcake rings, and skirts, among other things.
“It’s a Japanese themed store, but I still wanted to support local artists,” Samet said. “At anime conventions they have the dealers’ room where you can get manufactured items and the artist alley for handmade things so I wanted it to be like that, where people could find the items they are familiar with, and to also provide local artists.”