‘Central Perk’ Recreated in China

Beijing Central Perk CafePicture the big orange couch, the over-sized coffee mugs, the neon signs and even the guitar on which Phoebe strummed “Smelly Cat.”  This Central Perk is not on sound stage or in New York City.  It is thousands of miles away in downtown Beijing, on the 6th floor of a nondescript office building.  This working coffee shop, opened last year, started as an idea by the owner when watching “Friends,” he wanted to be able to buy coffee at the coffee shop depicted in the show.  A dedicated viewer, he reviewed thousands of pictures of the show’s set, watched reruns and then labored over furniture designs with Chinese manufacturers to create the replica.  Business was slow to get going, but once the buzz about the shop got on message boards and social media, fans poured in.  Customers even refer to the owner as “Gunther” (the shop’s fictional manager) though the two look nothing alike.  Apparently, the sitcom remains one of the most popular U.S. TV shows for young people in China.  Who knew?!!