America’s First Hello Kitty Cafe Opens Container Pop Up Shop

America’s very first Hello Kitty Cafe opened its doors over the weekend in Irvine, CA, to long lines of eager fans. People began queuing for the shop, which serves sweets, teas, and coffee drinks, at 7:30 a.m. in anticipation of the 11 a.m. opening time. And by 2 p.m. that first day, all of the shop’s offerings were sold out.

“Our pastries are baked every morning, and we bake enough for 500 to 600 people. So once we’re sold out, we’re sold out,” Allan Tea, co-owner of the Hello Kitty Cafe, told USA Today.

The cafe is actually a container pop up shop, situated just outside the Irvine Spectrum Center mall. With Hello Kitty’s signature bright pink hues and cutesy cat faces, it’s hard not to spot the steel cargo container-turned-cafe from a mile away. However, it might be easy to overlook the amazing storage container modifications the builders have put in place to make it functional for such a high-volume food service business.

The container pop up shop has an open, galley-style front counter for a smooth order-to-food-delivery process. There’s also ample seating right outside the shop under a shaded canopy. The Hello Kitty Cafe is a great example of how steel shipping containers can be repurposed for restaurant uses — and why the container market is projected to grow another 5.3% by 2017.

It goes to show that containers aren’t just for shipping, though they do account for 90% of the world’s trade transportation, with approximately 20 million shipping containers in transit at any given moment. But cargo container modifications can turn new or used containers into restaurants, offices, or even living spaces that work more economically than their brick-and-mortar equivalents.

The Hello Kitty Cafe is only slated to stay in Irvine for a year, though the container pop up shop’s popularity might mean it will stick around a little longer. Doubtless it will do a brisk business serving treats to the cult following of Hello Kitty fans, though anyone with a sweet tooth will still get a kick out of it. So if you’re in the mood for something pink, sugary and unique, look no further than Irvine.

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