Fans of TV series Friends in for a treat
Cafe that opens today in Singapore will look like the coffee place in the famous TV series
Local fans of 90s hit TV series Friends are in for a treat.
Central Perk has made its way to Singapore and is opening its doors at Central Mall to customers today.
The cafe is inspired by its namesake in the TV comedy series Friends, starring Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer.
The cafe, officially licensed by Warner Bros, was designed to look as similar as possible to the characters' hangout where Rachel (Aniston) initially worked as a waitress.
Other than the main set with the iconic sofa, there are three other areas in the cafe: character feature walls, directors' seats and an alfresco area.
Founder Lim Jit Min, 28, said: "When it came to set design, there was a style guide provided by Warner Bros.
"We had to micromanage the entire selection process to ensure that every item picked for the cafe adhered to the style guide."
The 28-strong team had to source for suppliers, both locally and overseas, and to provide them with specific, detailed instructions.
What made the process even more challenging was the unfamiliarity with the TV series among most contractors in the region.
Much of the cafe decor had to be custom-made so that it would look identical to the set of the show that ran for 10 years from 1994.
The iconic couch that sits in the middle of Central Perk Singapore is the sixth one the team bought because the previous five were either of the wrong size, colour or dimension.
Mr Lim said the interior designer reached out to some wedding dressmakers before selecting one who could reproduce a copy of Rachel's runaway bridal dress, which hangs on the character feature wall.
The team at Central Perk Singapore also came out with its own menu based on the show.
Mr Lim said: "Our kitchen team has eight chefs in total, with three of them for fine dining. Our food must look really pretty, but we also want it to be as good as possible.
"We watched the show and picked up every single food item along the way. We ended up with 200 to 300 dishes and we narrowed down our choices.
"A lot of thought and effort went into creating the menu."
One of the most expensive dishes on the menu is Phoebe's (Kudrow) I Can't Eat Meat Steak ($69). In one of the episodes, the vegan character ate steak when she was pregnant.
Another must-try at the cafe is coffee served in oversized cups as seen in the show ($4 to $8).
Mr Joseph Endi, 36, one of the investors, said the taste of the coffee blends is heavily inspired by the six Friends characters.
"We have Joey (LeBlanc) who was an Italian, so the coffee is a full roasted Italian coffee.
"And because Chandler (Perry) was the only smoker in the group, the coffee inspired by him has a smokey finish.
"There are many trends that come and go but we believe that if our food and service are good, people will come back."
Singapore is not the first country to have its very own Central Perk cafe.
In London, New York City and Sydney, pop-up cafes were set up to commemorate the milestones and anniversaries of Friends.
But there have been Friends superfans, just like Mr Lim, who opened up their own Central Perk cafes in China, Egypt and India.
When it came to set design, there was a style guide provided by Warner Bros.
- Founder Lim Jit Min
$1,000 fee too high, say some fans
Central Perk Singapore has sparked controversy online because of its membership plan, which costs $1,000 a year.
Members are entitled to six cups of coffee every day for a year, priority queues, reservations and personalised guest invitations to events, among other benefits.
As of Nov 18, 97 people have signed up for membership at the cafe, which seats 100.
Netizens have expressed their displeasure, saying the membership fee is too high and the cafe may get too crowded.
Founder Lim Jit Min has said the cafe will also allocate space for daily walk-ins, catering to non-members.
Mr Derek Ong, 28, who is running the cafe's operations, said membership had been there since the start, when Mr Lim turned to crowd-funding to raise money.
The $1,000 membership then offered a coffee a day for a year.
"We cannot give you a concrete list of members' benefits as it is always changing but what we have now is guaranteed," said Mr Ong.
The team is looking at getting 300 to 500 members.