The flyers look something like this.
Maid cafes use aggressive and unusual tactics to attract customers. For example, this cafe has loud speakers (on a roof top balcony) from which it tries to attract customers.
It would be easy to assume that maid cafes are devious places of misadventure. The fact is they're quite innocent.
Maid cafes feature waitresses who cosplay adorable maids. Maid cafes greet customers with — Okaerinasaimase goshujinsama (welcome home master!). They treat customers as if they are at home being served by a personal maid.
Maid cafes offer coffee, desserts and food. Waitresses decorate your food at your table.
The cafe may give you cat or bunny ears to wear.
Depending on the cafe — there are other services. You can pay to have your photo taken with a maid. The maid will then decorate the photo for you. At other cafes it's possible to play video games with a maid (for a fee).
The first maid cafe (Cure Maid Cafe) opened in 2001 in Akihabara. The cafe was incredibly popular and got national and international press coverage in its first year. Competition wasn't far behind. Today there are at least 20 maid cafes in Akihabara. Maid cafes are growing in size with several spanning 3 or 4 floors.
Akihabara (known as Tokyo's electronics district) has faced stiff competition in the electronics market from big Tokyo neighbourhoods such as Shinjuku in recent years.
Akihabara has successfully diversified into otaku shops (e.g. anime, manga, model trains, robots, etc) and maid cafes.
Over the years maid cafes have spread to every major city in Japan including Osaka, Sapporo, Kyoto, and Nagoya. They have also opened outside Japan in cities such as Los Angeles.