On this post I'll be discussing the day of the cafe. If you're interested in reading about the preparation, go to this post.
The day of the convention arrived and we set out to put together our cafe. Since our location had been shifted around due to problems reserving the previous year's room, we had came up with new layout ideas for our new area. While we didn't have a lot of room to work with, it was on a landing where there was going to be a high volume of traffic all day. This was good for us because it meant that more people would see our cafe for themselves while passing by.
We all quickly worked on getting things set-up in a way that everyone would be able to move around the cafe comfortably, especially those who would be serving our customers. The center where the convention was hosted allowed us to borrow it's furniture as well as some tables and chairs from the other rooms.
Sweet Tea, which I mentioned, used to be just a 'maid bake sale'. Well, we wanted to keep that convenience a part of our cafe so we had a 'to-go' section facing the front of the outside of the cafe. Those who bought items to-go wouldn't be able to enter the cafe, but they had the chance to buy just one item for it's own price than paying full price for the cafe.
If any other cafe is considering doing something like this, let me stress the importance of having the conditions of each option visible. We had someone who bought from the to-go table and didn't understand that he couldn't use our seating area because he bought one item for $1 instead of paying the full price to enter the cafe. It wasn't his fault and I felt bad having to explain it to him. We immediately made a poster that explained the two options. It had one arrow pointing to the entrance with text that said something like: Cafe- For $5 you will seated and served food and drink and play games with a maid. The one pointing towards the to-go table: To-Go - Pay individual prices for each food item but does not include admission into the cafe.
It's important to have enough maids who can handle the bake sale as well as the customers who are seated. At some point I was running the table, training maids, and overseeing the cafe's tables. Luckily, a lot of people volunteered to be maids and sometimes we had a surplus so we doubled the tables up. Some of our maids even offered to let newer maids shadow their table so that they could learn how to do things when I was busy doing other things. Most of the time, though, the other head maid was there to help. We also had some of our maids walking around with a platter showing off what kind of foods we had for sale at the cafe.
In the end we had five tables for customers to sit at, each one seating 6 people. We also had a great bar space that we could sit individual customers at.
While training the maids, I tried to let them know that they could come to me if they had any problems. One of our maids was having problems with a table who didn't seem like they wanted to be there. I offered to take over for her, but she insisted on braving it out. She handled the situation really well. There were a few problems here and there in the cafe, but nothing major and everything ran relatively smoothly. It was actually great for our first year as a cafe.
I only had time to attend to three tables personally, but each one was very fun. I was able to draw cute cat faces in chocolate on the plates I served, which we highly suggested each maid do. I got so many compliments on them, I was kind of surprised. I'm really shy so I told them that I might be a bit nervous upfront. After a while of attending to them, it kind of started melting away, at least until my next table. We played games together like "Name that Cat" and "Go Fish". After the games were over and they still had time in the cafe (45 minutes per group), I asked if they wanted to learn how to write cat in kanji. I'm still learning, myself, but the story behind it was cute and I thought it would be cute with our Cat(girl) Cafe theme. A lot of people were really willing to try and learn and write it with me. I got a lot of questions about my time at the @home maid cafe in Japan, too.
There was a group of people who seemed hesitant to try. At least, the guy seemed interested but the two girls looked like they didn't want anything to do with us. I got to take this table, actually. Before they entered, one of the girls seemed wary about what she was expected to do. I told her a little bit about the cafe and told her that she could just laugh at me if she thought I was being over the top cutesy or something (in a joking way.) In the end, they actually seemed to have had a lot of fun and were smiling by the end of the cafe. Someone I knew heard some positive comments from them as they left.
Since the cafe, I've been thinking that we should have let the maids try out some of our food before serving. We ended up with a surplus of food at the end anyway, but the idea is that they could make suggestions to customers based on what they tried. I didn't encounter this question until the second half of the day, more towards four o'clock or so. By then I had tried the amazing meringues that someone had brought in and was able to suggest that.
I'm really grateful for the opportunity I got with this and I'm glad to see that it went really well. Despite the convention's lower number of attendees, we actually did better than the bake sale that had happened the year before. I'm proud of the work that everyone put in to make this year truly amazing, especially the other two organizers that I had the honor of working with. I want to personally thank those two here as well for putting up with me.
While I turned down taking over for the next year, I've mentioned that I do want to continue helping to organize and train maids again. We're currently brainstorming suggestions of what we can do better next year, so hopefully I can help again then.