Pokemon cafe opens at Bugis Junction

Fans of the Japanese media franchise queued up at the Bugis Junction pop-up from as early as 6am yesterday

Mr Eugene Liew and Mr John Chow (both left) were in line at 6am yesterday for the opening of the cafe.
Mr Eugene Liew and Mr John Chow (both above) were in line at 6am yesterday for the opening of the cafe. ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

Five hours before the opening time at 11am, a queue had formed at Level 4 of Bugis Junction for the opening of the Pokemon cafe in Singapore.

Childhood friends John Chow, 22, a chef, and Eugene Liew, 25, a business analyst, were in line by 6am. "I took half a day of leave for this. I've collected the Pokemon trading cards and plush toys and played the video game too," says Mr Liew.

At about 10.30am, about 200 people were in the queue, with more joining every minute, despite being told that the waiting time might be more than five hours.

The 60-seat pop-up will operate until July 31 and opens for business at 11am daily. Last orders are taken at 9.30pm.

It is inspired by a similar cafe at Shibuya Parco in Tokyo and is a collaboration between Parco (Singapore) and Everything With Fries restaurant.

Pokemon is short for Pocket Monsters. The Japanese media franchise is centred on fictional creatures called Pokemon and humans can be Pokemon trainers who catch, train and battle them for sport.

Staff distributed candied apples to those in the queue. Once inside, they were invited to take photos at the 3D photo booth and shop at the merchandise corner before being led to their seats.

There were two queues - one for the cafe and another for those who wanted only to buy merchandise.

Ms Lai Sau Kuen, general manager (corporate) of Parco (Singapore), says there are plans to open a permanent cafe. She says of the pop-up: "We believe consumers here will be keen to try the unique experiences that we present at the Pokemon cafe, hence we wanted to introduce the character cafe concept to the market fairly quickly, while having more time to plan for a permanent outlet."

Dishes are mainly inspired by Pikachu, a popular Pokemon. Offerings include Pikachu Smiling Rice Omelette with Magma Sauce ($25), Pikachu's Sweeeeet Pancake ($20) and Pikachu Latte ($8 for hot and $9 for iced). Merchandise exclusive to the cafe include tote bags ($18.90), children's T-shirts ($26.90), adult T-shirts ($29.90) and Post-it pads ($4.90).

Housewife Wee Bee Bee, 55, says: "I'm here with my family to buy the Pokemon Adventures XY Volume 3 comic book, T-shirt and anything else that is cute. We wanted to visit the cafe, but the queue was too long, so we are just getting the merchandise instead."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 28, 2016, with the headline Pokemon cafe opens at Bugis Junction. Subscribe