1. On the sixth floor of an otherwise deserted Beijing shopping mall called Chaowai Soho lies Friends’ Café.
2. As that iconic logo suggests, it’s inspired by Central Perk: the café where the characters in Friends guzzled drinks for years.
3. It opened in 2009, five years after the last episode of the show was broadcast.
4. They’ve got the Friends font down pretty well.
5. And the atmosphere is spot on, too.
6. (Despite that escalator being visible from certain angles.)
7. It’s a great place to take a selfie, especially if you have a special selfie phone-camera holder.
8. It shows Friends episodes constantly.
9. And, of course, you can watch from the comfort of a replica of that famous couch.
10. You can enjoy coffee “straight from the mutter’s utter”, whatever that means.
11. Plus there’s a real-life (slightly) smelly cat to stroke. Even the original didn’t have that.
12. “What are they feeding you?” A live goldfish, if someone doesn’t step in here…
13. All the staff members adopt names of the show’s characters. Here’s the business card for the sister branch in Shanghai, along with the staffers’ English language names.
14. This wall art helpfully reminds you of the catchphrases.
15. “WE WERE ON A BREAK!” Etc.
16. You can buy cupcakes named after each character while being reminded that “life is a cup of cake”.
17. If you get bored you can head to this replica of Joey and Chandler’s apartment next door.
18. The café guestbook is an interesting read. Some of the messages are very sweet.
This reads: “We are finally here! After twists and turns, we finally found this place. So exciting! We have seen Friends for four times. The whole season! Super! Four times! Since I can’t go to America, here is the perfect place for me to get a little bit closer to America. 2013 > June > summer my friend WJ will go to England! Wish her the best and have a nice trip! Aviva & Dolphin.”
19. Some of them are mildly creepy.
This reads: “I want to have a rest. Stay in my home: eating, watching. Here is Friend’s Café.”
20. Some of them are hugely poignant.
This reads: “Phoebe: you cannot save all the Christmas trees, but you can save the young and the old for Monica! I love you! Lena.”
21. Some of them are depressingly pessimistic.
This reads: “Dream came true finally. First got in touch with Friends in freshman year, since then I just couldn’t help myself falling in love with the six great guys – esp. R&R. Actually I had a crush on Ross, maybe I like man like him, but I know I’ll never find a guy like him. Who’s the man worth waiting for… Ruby.”
22. Some of them are brilliantly optimistic.
This reads: “Chandler, I hope you are gay. Jerry.”
23. Some feature detailed character diagrams.
24. But everyone there agrees on one thing: Friends’ Café in Beijing is brilliant.
- A flash flood emergency has been issued Sunday in Charleston, South Carolina. More than 16 inches of rain fell in some areas. ›
- President Obama says the U.S. has launched a full investigation into the airstrikes that killed 19 people at a hospital in Afghanistan on Saturday. ›
- More than a dozen people were killed after severe storms and flooding swept through the French Riviera on Saturday evening. ›