Café Fights Loneliness with Stuffed Toys

February 18, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. plushy /ˈplʌʃ i/ (adj.) – having a soft and spongy texture
Example: The dog’s fur becomes very plushy after drying from bath.

2. loneliness /ˈloʊn li nɛs/ (n.) – the feeling of sadness because of being alone
Example: He feels a heavy sense of loneliness when he’s alone. 

3. patron /ˈpeɪ trən/ (n.) – a regular customer
Example: She’s been a patron of the restaurant for three years.

4. stuffed toy /stʌft tɔɪ/ (n.) – a toy that is made and/or stuffed with soft material, such as cotton
Example: The little girl likes to play with huggable stuffed toys.

5. fictional /ˈfɪk ʃən əl/ (adj.) – referring to something that is imagined and not real
Example: The children drew fictional places that are similar to their homes.


Read the text below.
A café is setting a trend with its unique customer service—providing a plushy dining companion to its lonely diners.

Moomin Café is becoming well-known for its creative effort to fight loneliness in the dining table, particularly for its solo patrons. Unlike in other restaurants, Moomin Café’s menu includes a dining buddy for diners who want company. The dining buddy is simply a large stuffed toy that sits with customers. Although the stuffed toys are lifeless, they are becoming the main attraction of the café.

The restaurant is named after Moomins, a series of Finnish children’s stories. Likewise, the stuffed toys are based on the main characters of the series.

The story of Moomins tells the lives of a family of fictional animals that resemble hippopotamuses. The first book was published in 1945, followed by comic strips and an animated series. Moomins gained popularity in the 1990s, and is now known as one of the most loved children’s literature in the world.

Although Moomin Café was inspired by Finnish cartoon characters, the café itself can be found only in Japan and China. The first Moomin Café, which opened in Tokyo, was the first to use Moomin stuffed toys as dining companions. Four Moomin Cafés are in Japan, while the first Chinese Moomin Café opened in Hong Kong last December.

Aside from its Finnish stuffed toys, the Moomin Café also serves traditional dishes from Finland, many of which are made in the form of Moomin characters.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Would you eat in the Moomin Café? Why or why not?
·         Why do you think the café’s anti-loneliness idea became a trend? Please explain your answer.

Discussion B

·         If you were to use the same anti-loneliness idea for your own restaurant, what fictional character/s would you use? Please explain your answer.
·         What, for you, is a good way to overcome loneliness? Please explain your answer. 

February 18, 2015