The owners of a new Japanese-inspired “maid café” in central Manchester have hit back at critics who have described it as “Hooters for incels”.
One local councillor said that the idea of the new Animaid Café in Afflecks Palace made her flesh crawl.
“What fresh hell is this in Manchester?” Councillor Joanne Harding wrote on Twitter, “A ‘maid cafe’ – No touching or asking to touch the maids. We have a gender based violence strategy and ask ‘is this OK?’
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Dozens of people replied to Councillor Harding’s tweet, calling the café “disgusting,” with one commenter saying it was like “Hooters for incels”.
But Vic Littley, one of the cafe’s managers, says Councillor Harding’s response is insulting and based on a failure to understand what the cafe is about.
“It was out of the blue and just felt derogatory,” she told the Manchester Evening News. “Most of the staff are young women – the post has been done with no grasp of what we actually are”.
Animaid Café is a British take on a popular Japanese phenomenon, where staff, dressed in maid costumes, act as servants and treat customers as if they were masters (or mistresses) in a stately home.
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In Japan, they’re hugely popular with the Otaku – what might be described in the UK as 'nerd' – subculture.
Vic insists: “We are a themed café where people can play board games, watch anime, sit and talk, study. We are not like how they are trying to portray us, we’re a bubble tea anime-themed café.”
“We’re family-friendly place and do many events days for families,” he added. “A lot of our customers are families who always come together who love anime. We’re just not sure why they’ve decided to post like that.
“The post was just very aggressive and not what we are about at all. It invited people to comment that we are some sort of fetish venue but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Afflecks is known as a place that is diverse, open, and welcoming for everyone.
"Half the rules are completely normal and happen everywhere, such as not distracting staff when we’re really busy. We are just wanting to be a safe place for anyone who wants to come".
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She continued: “The post seemed like an excuse to allow people to make up their own minds about the café before looking into anything that we are about. We’re no different to other themed cafes, like the cat café or gaming cafes that are popular everywhere.
“It’s a community of people who get made fun of a lot as it is which is why the post was sad to see. People who feel left out come here and make friends which is very positive.”
Councillor Harding later clarified her position, saying: "I am not lobbying at all for this café to be closed. I am supportive of small independent business, at no point have I suggested I want this establishment to close.
"I am also not about preventing young people from meeting and having fun," she added. "I am about the safety of women and girls in Greater Manchester in line with our Gender Based Violence strategy.”
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