Sugar, spice and everything nice.” That is what Royal/T is made of. If you love surrounding yourself with cute, little plush toys or items that make you squeal at your inability to withstand cuteness, consider giving your undivided attention to Royal/T.

Located in Culver City, Royal/T is a space where a cultural big bang occurs. It is a place where art, food and shopping collide and produce an explosion turned kawaii (cute). With its spacious interior, Royal/T is heavily influenced by contemporary Japan. Sit down in the space’s maid café and enjoy the Japanese culture-influenced contemporary art, and immerse your afternoon in the gallery- like atmosphere.

Royal/T is an art space that is both approachable and stylish at the same time. With its cement walls that do not distract the viewer’s gaze from the art, the space makes it clear that it is a respectable art space. At the same time, however, the displayed art, cartoon figure installations and a petite retail store within the art space make the multipurpose venue nothing but playful.

Through Feb. 28, the retail space within Royal/T is supporting a pop-up store for Mr. Toast, an amiable character created by Dan Goodsell. Everything from plush toys, paintings, stickers, T-shirts and small items such as pins of Mr. Toast and his butt buddy, Shaky Bacon, fill the store. Step in and feel for yourself, as I did, a weird sensation that cannot quite be described by one particular word. The pop-up store (in fact, the entirety of Royal/T) is … a bit otherworldly for a lack of better words.

The characters that Goodsell introduces to this art space seem animated or perhaps even alive. It may be because of his color choice for the paintings and characters, or the expressions on the characters’ faces. Nevertheless, wherever this type of feeling resonates from, there is some sort of vibrant energy that fills the space. Who knows? It could be Mr. Toast’s natural charm that makes you want to stay in the pop-up store for as long as possible. Other than the two lively characters, the store also welcomes a limited cupcake character to Mr. Toast’s group of friends. He or she (I have not quite figured out its gender) is a special guest attending Mr. Toast’s debut party at the shop.

Right beside the pop-up store is a small retail store showing off its collection of items unique to Japan. Here, you can entertain yourself with small decorative objects from character suits to comic books and tea leaves. I know. Tea leaves are a bit random amongst the other objects, but who cares? The packaging is cute.

This is not the end of Royal/T. There is more to enjoy here other than the art and shop. If you are done ogling and drooling inside the store and feel dehydrated, or are getting the munchies after spending too much energy running about, just make your way over to the other side of Royal/T and step into the maid café to freshen up. Although I have not had the chance to enjoy the food at the café here, the menu apparently ranges from an assortment of salads, sandwiches and teas to pastas, rice bowls and brunch. Like its reputation as a multipurpose venue, you are able to pick and choose from a wide selection of foods.

The excitement, however, does not end here. The truly intriguing factor of this café is that waitresses in maid costumes will be by your side to take your order. This type of maid cosplay (costume play in Japanese) is dedicated to specific cafes referred to as maid cafes in Japan. I guess with its love for Japanese culture, Royal/T emulates maid cafes as well.  

Oh, and one more thing. When you do decide to visit, do not plan to leave the store at Royal/T empty-handed. You might want to double check that you are bringing your wallet. The character items are far too adorable to be left behind in the store. Believe me, I could not resist getting my hands all over Mr. Toast.



Royal/T is located at 8910 Washington Blvd., Culver City. For more information, visit royal-t.org.