First Friends cafe in Singapore to open next year?
Singaporean Lim Jit Min is a huge fan of the TV sitcom Friends and has been to the Central Perk cafe in Shanghai many times
He has been a diehard fan of the popular US TV sitcom Friends since he was 16.
Through the years, Mr Lim Jit Min, now 28, has watched the entire series - which ran for 10 seasons and aired in the US from 1994 to 2004 - 10 times.
From the time he was 19, he even hoped he could open his very own Central Perk cafe one day.
Central Perk is a fictional coffee house that is situated in New York City's Greenwich Village and is featured in almost every episode of Friends. It's also the place where the six protagonists - played by Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer - frequently spend much of their free time at.
Five years ago, Mr Lim visited a Central Perk cafe in Shanghai (below), opened by a Friends superfan.
Speaking to The New Paper over the phone, he said: "I have been there like 10 times. Every time I travel there, I would make it a point to visit the cafe, to just chill and absorb the Friends experience. I did get inspired from visiting the cafe. I thought to myself, 'It would be great if there was such a cafe in Singapore'."
Mr Lim (below) is now making his dream a reality by taking the first step.
In April, he quit his job as a headhunter at a recruitment agency after almost two years to focus his energies on his new endeavour.
He approached six friends to pitch in and he is already in talks with a few investors.
Mr Lim has already registered Central Perk with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) as a business in Singapore and has consulted with the relevant authorities in Singapore regarding any licensing issues regarding the use of the name Central Perk.
He is currently trying to raise US$38,000 (S$51,000) on crowdfunding website Indiegogo and he is also making use of this campaign to gauge the demand for the cafe in Singapore.
It would cost Mr Lim and his partners around $500,000, inclusive of rent, renovations and reserve cash.
He said: "Friends really connected with me on a really deep level. When I'm upset, I would watch the show and it would be able to cheer me up a little.
"I've always longed for that kind of place to hang out at and I wanted to be able to open a place to recreate that experience right here in Singapore."
Mr Lim is not afraid that the novelty of Friends has died off, especially as the show ended its run 12 years ago.
He said: "I think that some classics never die. I have two younger sisters, aged 23 and 20, who love Friends and the youngest one loves it more than I do.
"I think this show is brilliant and timeless. It can appeal to someone far away from the intended generation."
Ideally, Mr Lim would like Central Perk to be situated in "the heart of town", but will reveal the location "at a later date when things are more finalised".
He's aiming to open it in March.
He said: "I'm going to recreate the whole ambience in terms of the set-up and interior design because that is the whole essence of it."
He's also confident about the food and drinks he'll be serving, adding: "I'm not at all worried about it tasting bad or anything. I already have a superb cafe menu lined up and it's going to be some of the coolest trending food around."
If and when Central Perk does open in Singapore, it wouldn’t be the first in the world.
There have been pop-up cafes in London, New York City and Sydney to celebrate the anniversaries and milestones of Friends, but they only opened temporarily in 2009, 2014 and 2015 respectively.
However, just like Mr Lim, there are other Friends superfans who have opened up their very own Central Perks in China, Egypt and India.
In China, there are three outlets located in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, having opened in 2009, 2012 and 2014 respectively.
Another opened last Christmas in Port Fouad in Egypt and the most recent one opened in May in Kolkata, India.