Not every mom will be comfortable with mild exposure to Japanese fetish culture, but we know some moms who'd be into it. For them, we recommend Culver City's “Japanese-inspired maid café” Royal/T for your special Sunday activity.
In its last incarnation, the Washington Boulevard building served as corporate offices for spa chain Burke Williams. Now the expansive space blends gallery, art installation, café, tea bar, gift sho, and other multi-uses that put Murakami's dizzying Superflat concepts into practice.
Ten-dollar plastic toys are displayed alongside multi-thousand dollar Murakami prints, while selections from owner Susan Hancock's crazy awesome art collection (Richard Prince, Jennifer Steinkamp, Murakami, Olaf Breuning, et al.) is behind Plexiglass — a design choice that initially seems intended to maintain distance between the viewer and the object itself. But Hancock explains that the clear barriers are actually so that families and small children can enjoy Royal/T without fear of what would be an utterly terrifying “you break, you buy” policy. She also brings in guest curators from different disciplines and areas of the art world to mix it up a bit. New York-based artist/designer KAWS put together the current display, and Carrie Jardine's delicate, Nouveau romantic, Mucha and Parish-influenced paintings are on view in another gallery space through May 30.
There's something for everyone in the concrete-and-brick surfaced, exposed trussed 10,000-square-foot interior, as long as parents are comfortable with their kids seeing some artsy topless stuff and waitresses working in suggestive maid's costumes.
Royal/T's whimsical appeal and flexibility has apparently caught on with the Westside bar/bat mitzvah set as a hot party location, too. Sure beats the ballroom at the Beverly Hills Hotel and other played-out venues.
The galleries and café are home to a changing roster of cultural and art events, and this weekend focuses on Mother's Day. The prix-fixe four-course Royal Mom meal ($22) and more extensive High Tea ($25) make decisions easy. Or order from the regular and a la carte menus. (Espresso enthusiasts, take note that there's a no-nonsense La Marzocco machine.) Each honored mom gets a complimentary mimosa, and a free bag of organic coffee or loose tea comes with each Royal/T Mother's Day gift set of love-themed Heartyware cups and saucers — that's if you can handle those objects' sentimentality amid all the intensely cheeky edginess.
8910 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 559-6300 or www.royal-t.org.