Some people have ‘crazy’ dreams, like this. So yes, a F.R.I.E.N.D.S themed café Central Perk Singapore has opened at Central Mall Magazine Road (Note: NOT Clarke Quay Central, though they are nearby.)
Did Central Perk Singapore come 10, or 15 years too late?
How many times do friends gather and say, ”Hey, let’s open a café…”, throw out insane ideas, and one of them actually come to fruition?
Even if they do, how many of such businesses last?
The team led by a rather young (28) Jit Min has made this possible, through a crowd-funding exercise which led to the interest of investors.
Central Perk is THE coffee house from the once-super-popular TV sitcom F.R.I.E.N.D.S, in which the show’s characters were often seen hanging together.
This is the only cafe outside of the United States that has been granted the intellectual property rights by Warner Brothers. You have to give it to the local team who has made something possible out of initial imagination.
To be honest, I had my reservations. So when my friend texted me to ”Let’s queue together”, I had the inkling it won’t be as packed, despite the media fanfare and hype. I wasn’t totally wrong.
Fans can take a wonderful memory lane at Central Perk, get into the nostalgia mode, as much attention has been put into the details and décor.
There are pieces of Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler, and Ross found all around. Some iconic features include Monica’s kitchen, Rachel’s runaway wedding dress, Phoebe’s cat (found in the guitar case), Chandler and Joey’s foosball table.
The dishes on the menu are decided after the team watched the entire show and picked out representative food items.
The mains include Janice’s Oh My God Baby Back Ribs ($39), Ahh Unagi ($36), Phoebe’s I Can’t Eat Meat Steak ($69), Chandler’s Thanksgiving Whole Roasted Chicken ($36), Joey’s Fisherman Stew ($38) and Joey’s You’re My Everest Turkey ($36).
Prices look way up north, and are probably 30-40% than the typical café benchmark level. Jit Min explained that this price range was due to the high franchise fee.
I ordered a “You’re My Lobster Salad” ($32), Monica’s Marinara Pasta ($32) and Iced Matcha Coffee ($8). After taxes, the bill came up to about $80. The heart did ache a little.
Food wise, a couple of hits and misses, but considered respectable for a themed café (Give and take, yah?)
My favourite was the “You’re My Lobster Salad” ($32) in which the pan-seared lobster was fleshy and sweet. Then again, at this price, I probably won’t order this again.
The Monica’ Marinara ($32) had a good al dente bite to the pasta, though overall could have been saucier.
Didn’t quite fancy the Phoebe’s Mushroom Soup ($15) which had a well, smoothie-like consistency.
Good to know: There are 6 different blends of coffee profiled to the 6 different F.R.I.E.N.D.S. characters, sourced from 4 coffee roasters.
The greatest attraction to me was the space, how it was recreated from the original sitcom, with the cool chill-out vibes. I could imagine getting a couple of friends to hang out for coffee and long chats to talk about the good old days.
Sustainability in a long run (and for long, I mean 1-2 years) is probably one of Central Perk’s Singapore greatest challenge, considering how fickle minded the modern consumers can be, and how trends come and go faster than superficial friendships.
Will you be there for them?
Central Perk Singapore
01-01 Central Mall, 1 Magazine Road Singapore 059567
Opening Hours: 10am – 10pm (Tues – Sun), Closed MonReserve Online Now – Central Perk Singapore