Tokyo Kitty Travels Back to the ’60s With a Pan-Am–Themed Pop-Up

The downtown Japanese karaoke bar will transform into a Pan-Am airplane lounge for one week in October.

Photograph by Paisley Stone

Disney. Coca-Cola. Pan-Am. That’s what comes to mind for Gorilla Cinema founder Jacob Trevino when he thinks of the most iconic American brands. So, naturally, he secured the rights to the Pan-Am branding to transform downtown karaoke bar Tokyo Kitty into an airplane lounge straight from 1969.

“I think there [are] very few brands in the world that…are as iconic as Pan-Am,” Trevino says. “Just to be able to use that level of history and iconography is very meaningful.”

With purchase of a ticket—which have sold out since going on sale in late August—guests will enter one of Tokyo Kitty’s private rooms to “fly” to one of five exotic locations. When guests choose between Hawaii, Tokyo, Mexico City, London, or the moon—to which Pan-Am actually sold 96,000 tickets to fly before filing bankruptcy in 1991—they will be served themed cocktails based on the destination they chose.

Tokyo Kitty normally features neon lighting and decor inspired by Japanese street culture, but for the pop-up event’s six-day run, it will transform into a period-accurate experience. Actors will represent flight attendants wearing Pan-Am uniforms previously worn by the actual airline staff in the 1960s. Even the magazines guests will be handed upon entry are authentic publications from the era.

Photograph courtesy of Gorilla Cinema

In addition to the lounge transformation, guests who are unable to secure a ticket can visit the terminal area of Tokyo Kitty during the event, where limited-edition Pan-Am branded T-shirts, bags, passport covers, and prints by local Cincinnati artists will be available for purchase.

Gorilla Cinema creates these types of experiences, Trevino says, because “more than ever, people need the ability to escape and forget about the outside world, even just for an hour or two. That’s why we do the things that we do. It’s about creating and projecting wonder into the world and creating these really unique environments. Not everybody gets to fly to Hawaii. Not everybody gets to fly to Tokyo. But maybe we can provide just a little bit of that experience,” he says.

To accommodate abundant public interest in this type of event, Gorilla Cinema confirmed exclusively to Cincinnati Magazine that it will host a similar pop-up series in Columbus this holiday season, running 18 days at a to-be-announced location. This subsequent iteration will feature new destinations, including the North Pole.

Tokyo Kitty’s Pan-Am Layover Lounge event runs Oct 8–13. Tickets for the event have sold out. For more information, visit Gorilla Cinema’s website or the event’s Facebook page. 

Tokyo Kitty, 575 Race St., downtown, (513) 774-0909

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