SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - The latest expansion of the Hello Kitty franchise is now officially open in the Bay Area. Friday morning, a mini café in San Jose welcomed the first few loyalists who waited hours to see and sample items inside.
Thirty minutes ahead of the scheduled grand opening, Hello Kitty executives opened the door and turned a page in history. For the first time, this franchise is satiating desires in Northern California.
“I’m super excited. I got here at 7:00 a.m.,” said Blinda Martinez.
Long before Martinez found her spot, a long line full of eager fans started forming outside the café at Santana Row.
“She really loves Hello Kitty. And I wanted to make this moment special for her, to go in and visit her first café,” said Ken Donato, who brought his teenage daughter to the opening.
Women and men, parents with their children and pets, stood in sweltering heat, stretching far around the building and all the way to the street corner. Donna Kosanovich was first in the que, standing like a sentry since 5:00 a.m.
“It’s just super cute and it’s just something from my childhood that I really enjoyed. And having it back because a lot of the Hello Kitty stuff went away. So now that it’s back I have to relive my childhood and enjoy it,” said Kosanovich.
Hello Kitty executives say strong demand for mini cafes and pop-up container stores in Southern California emphasized the need for a store up north. Santana Row’s well-heeled crowd was a logical fit
“There’s so much love for Hello Kitty here in the Bay Area that it was a no-brainer. We had to come back,” said Dave Marchi, the vice president of brand management and marketing.
A line that had once went from the front door to Olin avenue has dissipated during the day. Managers say they won’t put a time limit on how long people can stay inside since they want them to immerse themselves in the brand.
And once inside what are people getting? On a day like today, anything cold.
The myriad of menu items is enough to induce a sweet lovers confection coma. Some items are common across all Hello Kitty platforms, while others are unique to this location.
“It’s great to get younger people back into the Hello Kitty scene and it’s just super cute. Makes me happy,” said Kosanovich.
Hello Kitty executives say this mini café will be at Santana Row through the end of the year, closing at nine o’clock each night. They promise more local surprises as the brand celebrates its 45th anniversary next year.