As part of K-Pop fandom culture, fans often hold birthday events for idols at cafes. For these events, fans would deck out the cafe in festive decorations from balloons to fan-favorite photos of the idol.
The fans also often prepare small gifts to share with other fans who come to celebrate the idol’s birthday. For instance, cup holders featuring the idol would be distributed with drinks as bonus door gifts.
While most cafe owners welcome such collaborations, it seems that one particular owner has gotten into a pickle with fans for their “preferential rule.” Located in Hongdae, Cafe Yellow Birthday is popular for hosting idol birthday events thanks to its great lighting and convenient location. However, the cafe has now come under fire after a fan uploaded their conversation with the cafe and called them out for being biased against “lesser-known idols”.
As idols’ birthdays often clash, most cafes operate on a first-come, first-served basis. Whichever fandom makes a reservation first gets to rent out the cafe for their event. However, that did not seem to be the case with Cafe Yellow Birthday.
- Fan: “Hello, is November 5 to 7 available for booking?”
- Cafe: “Which artist are you booking for???”
- Fan: “[Edited out idols’ name]!”
- Cafe: “Sorry, I’m planning on taking reservations for someone else.”
- Fan: “Okay…”
- Fan: “Can I ask if you already accepted a booking for someone else…?”
- Cafe: “No, that’s not it, but I’m planning on taking reservations for [edited out name of another idol].”
The fan found out through the cafe’s official Twitter that the dates they had wanted were still unbooked at the time of inquiry.
Current Bookings for April to July
We are taking reservations on a first-come-first-serve basis! ⬆️ doesn’t mean that the date is unavailable but available for booking! Please ask us about it.
(We plan to change the lighting by mid-March to one that’ll look great for photos)
— Cafe Yellow Birthday
As the issue gained traction, many netizens speculated that the idol who was refused was ATEEZ‘s Wooyoung or Hongjoong based on the idols’ birthdays and the fans’ social media accounts. However, it appears that this wasn’t the first time fans had a difficult time working with this cafe. Other fans began to chime in about their experiences with the cafe.
One fan recounted how the cafe had unreasonable conditions when it came to the expected number of guests and products sold that day. As cafes often sell cake and drink sets to fans with the promise of more fanmade freebies, they would buy more cakes too.
You have to put in a downpayment of ₩100,000 KRW (about $80.90 USD) and if less than 20 people come a day, the downpayment is taken as rent and you won’t get it back. If there are cakes left in stock, I have to buy it all. If you don’t have more than 50 people expected, they don’t sell bottled drinks.
It soon became apparent that this wasn’t the first time the cafe shut down a request due to an idol’s popularity. Another fan stepped up to claim they had faced similar preferential treatment when they were trying to host a birthday event for Rocket Punch‘s Suyun.
The fan shared the messages she exchanged with the cafe, along with the caption: “Sh*t ㅋㅋ I wasn’t going to make this public but I’m sorry that I’m not a fan of a top-tier idol who’ll pack the cafe owner’s wallet with money.”
- Fan: “Hello! I’d like to reserve the cafe for a birthday! Would it be possible to reserve March 12 and 13, 2022??”
- Cafe: “Yes, hello! The dates are available. Who is the artist you are hosting for??”
- Fan: “[Edited out idols’ name]!”
- Cafe: “Oh, sorry… I’m planning to take reservations for another artist during those dates”
Later on, the cafe blatantly went against their rule of first-come-first-serve and directly listed the names of popular idols that they are willing to host birthday events for.
I’m taking reservations for cupholder birthday cafe events in April, May and June. I’m looking for reservations for [edited out artist name] from June 15 to 18. I will take reservations for [edited outartist names] in May and [edited out artist names] in June.
— Cafe Yellow Birthday
Fans had many gripes with the cafe. Many complained about the preferential treatment depending on the artists’ general popularity, the fact that they only accept events with air holders (thicker quality sleeves) and not paper or cardboard holders, and the above-mentioned complaints about downpayment and quantity. The cafe also allegedly does not accept reservations if the event organizer will not be personally present to set up and clean up afterward. They do not allow helpers or friends to do it on the organizer’s behalf. Others claimed that the cafe also doesn’t allow designed holders without prior confirmation of design by the cafe.
Naturally, the incident was met with both backlash and resignation. While a few seemed to understand the cafe’s stance, many criticized the cafe’s attitude and preferential rules.
- “They even inspect the design… What a mess”
- “LOL but if they rejected ATEEZ, it seems like they really don’t know the idol market and they’re just hosting for idols that they personally prefer. If ATEEZ is at the level of rejection then there’s only going to be a few idols that can do events there.”
- “Looks like ATEEZ got rejected. Does the owner even know about idols?”
- “Well, isn’t it up to the owner? If you’re that mad, open a cafe yourself.”
- “Of course everyone knows it’s up to the owner. But with that sort of attitude, they will surely hit rock bottom as their brand image gets damaged.”
- “It’s totally this — I don’t know who they are and I’m not interested in idols but I want to suck all the money from the fans. LOL Why do they even bother trying to sound nice about it?”
- “What’s up with that LOL”
International fans are not taking kindly to the news either with fans reprimanding the cafe. As fans from all over the world continue to call out the cafe’s unreasonable rules, many point out that fans should take their birthday events elsewhere, where they will be treated fairly and not depending on an idols’ popularity.
I hope you realize that you are not the only cafe in Korea. pic.twitter.com/BpJQxCIhfm
— Woomist 🐯 (@thebreadwoo) March 13, 2022
Hey cafe manager-nim, look over here! Hongjoong has something important to say:pic.twitter.com/T0cjF84A9k
— Cho ^_^ (@JJongcha) March 13, 2022
The cafe has since apologized for its oversight.