Sanrio’s first U.S. Gudetama Cafe is open in Buena Park

The opening of Orange County’s Gudetama Cafe has been anything but “meh.” Lines wrapped through the Buena Park Downtown Mall parking lot on its May 4 opening day, when hundreds of fans showed up to try a cafe devoted to the world’s favorite anthropomorphic, utterly lazy egg.

Some waited hours, some were turned away. Yelp reviewers wrote that they waited as long as 12 to 16 hours to enter the temple to Sanrio’s genderless, unfertilized egg with its own Netflix show. Some guests had to make subsequent attempts to visit but found that wait times this week had whittled down to 20 to 40 minutes since the first Saturday of business.

Once inside, it’s all yellow and eggy everywhere, especially when it comes to the food. Most of the items are egg-topped. Character statues can be found hanging from the ceiling and on display tables. The walls are awash with murals of Gudetama listlessly saying, “Meh,” “Whatever … ” and “Can I go now?”

The bright yellow building that sits just to the east of Knott’s Berry Farm marks the first Gudetama Cafe in the U.S. — a savory counterpart to Sanrio’s Hello Kitty Cafes in Irvine and Las Vegas, which specialize in confections and tea service. A number of Gudetama Cafes have cropped up in the last decade, kicking off with a pop-up in Japan, then larger-scale Gudetama Cafes in Singapore, Osaka and Tokyo, as well as a Brighton restaurant called Gudetama’s Lazy Lounge in England.

Buena Park’s Gudetama Cafe riffs on some of the eggy menu items seen in other international iterations, but the menu leans decidedly American with breakfast sandwiches, egg-topped sliders and sides of bacon-and-cheese tater tots.

(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

A representative for Sanrio told The Times that the company plans to open more cafes based on its litany of cute characters throughout the year — and that in the pantheon of those characters, Gudetema, though newer, has already become one of the most beloved, especially by older fans who can relate.

Cesar Shih is the manager of Gudetama Cafe as well as a franchisee of the Habit Burger Grill; he also helped bring the Hello Kitty Cafe to Las Vegas in 2016 (he has since departed, and has no affiliation with the Irvine location). Shih said he signed on to the Gudetama Cafe project due to the appeal of Gudetama itself.

A closeup of a yolk oozing on an egg-topped sausage sandwich with tots at the Gudetama Cafe in Buena Park

Nearly every dish at the Gudetama Cafe involves runny yolks — and most come emblazoned with the face of Sanrio’s beloved lazy egg.

(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

“We went into COVID and people developed a different mentality,” he told The Times the day before the cafe opened. “Before, we were so engaged in the hustle and bustle. Now, it’s like: Gudetama is tired all the time but is stress-free. I just really fell in love with the character.”

Multiple fans echoed the sentiment during a preview the day before the cafe opened. Among the many attendees dressed in yellow and Gudetama-themed hats, shirts and dresses was Risa Light, clad in an egg-inspired beret, a white dress and a yellow apron.

“Gudetama is the new icon of this new era,” said Light, who teaches Japanese slang on Instagram. “Gudetama is obviously super kawaii, super cute, but he’s also lazy — he doesn’t want to go to work. He just wants to stay in bed today, and I relate to him so much. [In the past] there was no character like this we could relate to as much as Gudetama.”

Nine-year-old visitor Olivia Lopez told The Times that Gudetama reminds her of her mom, Cynthia “Cyn” Lopez. The duo wore matching “Gude vibes” shirts and drove down from San Fernando Valley to try the new restaurant. A self-described Sanrio fan since her childhood, content creator Lopez said she jumped at the chance to see the cafe and “share this passion of loving Sanrio” with her daughter.

When it came to building the cafe’s menu, the egg, of course, was crucial. This location uses pasture-raised eggs from Vital Farms on a menu decidedly more American than its global counterparts: Whereas previous iterations saw fluffy Japanese pancakes, curry and udon, Buena Park’s features classic breakfast sandwiches with bacon and American cheese, egg-topped sliders and avocado toast, in addition to an egg-topped chicken katsu sandwich, and all are served with tater tots. Most of the yolks feature the unenthusiastic visage of Gudetama, while brioche buns come stamped with the character donning a chef’s toque and reclining in its eggshell.

Having collaborated with Beard Papa’s in the past, Sanrio suggested adding that Japanese bakery’s famed cream puffs to the cafe menu. Gudetama Cafe offers the original, piped-to-order cream puff as well as a version coated with a dripping, rich-yellow topping — though it’s not egg yolk but mango sauce.

Shih, who also helps oversee the food, said the Gudetama Cafe kitchen team also is developing its own desserts such as Portuguese egg tarts and yellow macarons, and that he wanted the cafe to be more informal — with an order-at-the-counter format, as opposed to full-service dining — to be “more reflective of the Gudetama personality.”

If Gudetama fans — like their favorite egg — find the thought of rolling out of bed too daunting, even to make it to Buena Park right now, there could be other reasons to visit this and other Sanrio cafes in the future.

“We’re excited to finally get the doors open,” said Jill Koch, senior vice president of marketing and a Sanrio employee for 22 years. “And stay tuned. There’s more cafe news coming shortly. … Definitely there’ll be multiple openings over the course of the rest of this year.”

Gudetama Cafe is located at 8340 La Palma Ave. in Buena Park, and is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Sunday.

L.A. Times staff writer Jireh Deng contributed to the reporting of this story.

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