Meet Gunther, the Chinese man who changed his real name “Du Xin” and opened a real-life “Central Perk” in Beijing, China.
It shouldn’t take long for you to realise that Du Xin, we mean, Gunther, is obsessed with that American sitcom called “Friends“. We’re obsessed with the show too, but Gunther took the obsession to a whole new level.
In the original sitcom, Gunther is a character portrayed by James Michael Tyler. He is a coffee shop worker at Central Perk who had an unrequited love for Rachel Green, a character played by Jennifer Aniston. Poor Gunther did not end up together with Rachel, but Du Xin changed the part of the story by marrying a woman called Rachel in real-life. They even named their son Joey.
Before Du Xin transformed his life exactly like the sitcom, he was actually going through a bad break up. He had a hard time coping with it, so his friends suggested he watch “Friends” to shake himself out of the funk. Needless to say, he’s in love. He revealed that most of the things that happened in the sitcom were relatable, which prompted him to quit his job and open his very own Central Perk.
From the frame on Monica’s door to Phoebe’s guitar to Chandler’s “Baywatch” DVD collection, Gunther spent 5 months transforming his home into a café that looks exactly like Joey and Chandler’s place. The resemblance is downright frightening, as no detail was overlooked. He even named his cat after Phoebe’s “Smelly Cat”.
The business didn’t go well when he first opened the café’ in March 2010. Considering the fact it was located on the 6th floor of an ordinary office building, the business only started to pick up through word of mouth. A few months later, the café finally went viral on Chinese message boards and blogs. Fans started pouring in, which often overwhelmed the small, understaffed café.
According to CNN, Chinese universities are known to show episodes of “Friends” as a way for students to learn English and pick up cultural references.
Gunther’s friends also revealed that Chinese TV is “kind of political”, which is a far cry from the American sitcoms. Another friend of his also stated that “Friends” represents their youth because they don’t have TV series like the show. Thus, despite having ended 6 years ago, the 10-season series remains one of the most popular US TV shows for young Chinese.
Du Xin/Gunther isn’t the only business owner to have remodelled a cafe after Central Perk as the coffee house has inspired other imitations in London and Dubai as well.