Central Perk replica hits Beijing

Friends is of the most popular shows with Chinese youth

It’s an uncanny replica of Ross and Rachel’s favourite hang out, but this Central Perk is neither in downtown New York City nor on the set of “Friends” in Los Angeles. Rather, it’s tucked away on the 6th floor of an office building in downtown Beijing. Owner and manager Du Xin, a loyal Friends fan, opened Central Perk in March after he couldn’t find a café with a similar vibe in Beijing. Du scrutinized thousands of pictures of the show’s set, watched endless reruns of the sitcom, and spent five months laboring over furniture designs with manufacturers in Beijing before his dream was realized. Despite an initial lag in business, Friends’s massive popularity in China created buzz for the café through Chinese message boards and blogs, drawing fans in. Most of Du’s customers are college students and young professionals who grew up watching the show as a way to learn English and get a glimpse of young American life. The sitcom has also made its way into China’s education system, where episodes are included as part of the curriculum for English listening and speaking training, and to help students pick up American slang and cultural references. But Du isn’t the only entrepreneur capitalizing on the café’s famous name–other imitations have also opened to much fanfare in London and Dubai.