Recreating 'Friends,' One Coffee Cup at a Time

Although Du is the coffee shop's only full-time staff member, he recruited plenty of help after hosting a "Looking for Rachel" event. Named after the "Friends" character who had a brief stint as a Central Perk waitress on the show, the event invited participants to try waitressing for a day. With 400 people registered, Du is going down the list and letting each volunteer have a turn.

Zheng Yahewa, a student at Beijing Jiaotong University, is one of the volunteers. Sporting a "Joey" nametag, she said, "I'm a fan of the show, so my friend and I both decided to participate in the event. Like me, most servers here are college students who are taking time out of their summer break to help out."

Coffee Shop A Long-term Project for Du

The success of his cafe has caught Du by surprise and strengthened his resolve to keep the business open.

"At first, I thought of the café e as a dream, a side hobby, rather than a way to make a living," he said. "I never thought I'd get so much support. I was doing it to fulfill a personal dream. Now I realize how this dream can reach out to other people, so I'm working toward making it even better. I hope to keep running this place for as long as possible."

With the popularity of the "Rachel" event, Du will kick off "Looking for Phoebe" in August. Participants will perform one of Phoebe's signature, humorous songs from the show, as well as an original song of their own. Du also hopes to start a monthly book club.

"The goal is to liven up the place," he said, "and make this cafe truly welcoming and unforgettable."

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