One of the reasons I had accepted a job in Chongqing is that I had never heard of it before. This enormous metropolis directly north of where I’d spent the last three years, and I knew nothing of it. And because of this vague anonymity, it is still relatively devoid of Western-ish establishments in comparison to Shanghai, Beijing, or even it’s neighbor, Chengdu.
Imagine my surprise then when walking around Jiefangbei, Chongqing’s commercial center, and seeing a familiar logo from NBC’s ‘Friends’ advertising the renowned Central Perk.
Located on the fourth floor of a relatively quiet mall, the coffee house tries to replicate the ambience of the one from the show. And although not an exact copy, it certainly has the look and feel down right, complete with a large orange couch in front of a flat screen TV showing DVDs of ‘Friends’.
Apparently the product of an entrepreneur and fanboy of the show, this Central Perk began in Beijing and also has a store in Shanghai, which I seem to have missed while there. Still, it was quite the shock to find something as quirky as this in a city like Chongqing.
For 30 yuan (US$ 5) I got a cappuccino and headed toward the TV. A little girl was watching the Friends episode intently before going back and speaking to her mother in English. And although the mug wasn’t the ridiculous size of Gunther’s cafe and there seemed no continuity to the few quick episodes involving Chandler’s 3rd nipple and Ross sleeping with the copy girl, it did prove a comfortable place to pass a little time during a day out in Chongqing.