A chorus of “Hey Barbie” greetings chimed from the Pantone pink, palm tree-lined entrance of the Malibu Barbie Cafe, as a mob of pink descended upon Mall of America’s newest pop-up attraction for an exclusive first look Thursday night.
If you thought Barbie fever was beginning to die down after the release of Greta Gerwig’s box office-smashing film in July, you would be wrong—especially if you happen to be located in the Twin Cities. Almost three months later, Minnesota has been painted pink by the third iteration of the Malibu Barbie Cafe, a two-story fast-casual restaurant inspired by the iconic Mattel fashion doll and the retro beachside aesthetic of 1970s Malibu. Opened by media experience brand Bucket Listers, the cafe experienced viral, sold-out success with its first two pop-ups in New York City and Chicago. After closing these locations, Bucket Listers set its sights on none other than the largest mall in the Western Hemisphere for a third run.
“We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bring Malibu to the Twin Cities,” said public relations representative Michael Corrigan, who that night was clad in a hot pink denim jacket layered over a palm tree-printed Malibu Barbie T-shirt. “It’s important to us that every person feels like Barbie when they walk through these doors. No matter who they are or where they come from, everyone lives the Barbie lifestyle here.”
And how could they not? With imaginative photo-ops like a life-size Barbie doll box with to-scale accessories, activities including a glossy roller rink with skate rentals, and gourmet creations like the Pacific Paradise Pancakes (which, yes, are pink.)
The cafe concept debuted in New York City last May, preluding the release of Gerwig’s film. But now that the film has seeped its way into the hearts of Barbie lovers everywhere, Mall of America’s location is able to capitalize on some its widely recognizable motifs, including the enthusiastic “Hey Barbie” greeting, which delightfully multiplied throughout the night. Visitors may also recognize the collared, bubblegum pink tops sported by the waitstaff, which are seemingly a riff off of the pink jumpsuits worn by the “Barbie” cast in the famous scene where the Barbies overthrow the Kens.
For the primarily Gen-Z and millennial audience at the 21+ event, it was a marvelous convergence of memories both new and old. Not only a nod to the film, but a revisiting of beloved themes and characters from their childhood.
To say the cafe taps into nostalgia would be an understatement. Each minute detail, from the glass case displays showcasing iconic Barbie doll editions, to the high-flying painted banner encouraging guests to make it “The Best Day Ever,” resurfaces distinct childhood memories of sitting on the floor in a mess of plastic dolls. Stop by the “History of Beach” display to learn more about the debut of the 1971 Malibu Barbie that the cafe is based on, or have fun searching for a favorite childhood doll among the painted murals and framed pictures encompassing nearly every surface of the massive memory museum.
“This unique experience provides a fun opportunity for Barbie fans of all ages to immerse themselves in the world of Barbie,” said Carrie Charleston, vice president of leasing at the mall.
Climb the rungs of the Malibu Barbie lifeguard stand, unwrap a cupcake from its plastic double decker boat display, or stage a phone call at the magenta pink Crosley payphone—there are no shortages of Barbie-themed sensory experiences to indulge in.
“We wanted to engage all five senses in Barbie’s world,” Corrigan shared, and between the overhead bubbly pop beats, trays of bright pink cocktails, shelves of exclusive Barbie merchandise, and midcentury modern barbiecore furniture, it was clear they had succeeded in this.
The Malibu Barbie Cafe is officially open for 90-minute table reservations that will include choice of an entrée and side item, full access to cafe experiences, and additional libations, shared plates, and desserts for purchase.