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‘Friends’ Central Perk Coffeehouse Opens as Brands Look for Consumer Connections

‘Friends’ Central Perk Coffeehouse Opens as Brands Eye Connections

Warner Bros. Discovery is becoming the latest company to open a themed restaurant to deepen consumers’ connection with their brands, bringing a “Friends-themed coffeeshop to Boston.

The first Central Perk Coffeehouse opened in the city Tuesday (Nov. 14), inspired by the shop of the same name in the popular TV series “Friends,” according to an emailed announcement. The shop is a reimagined adaptation of the coffeehouse that served as a central gathering place for the show’s characters throughout the series.

“Our mission was to reimagine Central Perk as it would look and serve as a gathering spot for friends today, not to recreate the actual set,’” Glen Coben, founder and principal designer of the interior design firm behind the project, Glen & Company, said in a statement. “The space conveys the ‘Central Perk state-of-mind.’”

The move comes from Warner Bros. Discovery Global Themed Entertainment, the on-site entertainment subsidiary of the media giant, and its dedicated holding company for the project, CenPer Holdings. The menu features products themed around moments from the series. In addition to being a coffee shop, the location will also serve as a bar, introducing alcoholic beverages in the week ahead.

Increasingly, brands outside the food and beverage space are opening restaurants, in both the real world and the digital, to drive deeper connections with their customers and to stay relevant in more parts of consumers’ day-to-day routines.

Netflix, for its part, announced in June the launch of its Netflix Bites pop-up restaurant in Los Angeles, offering meals from celebrity chefs featured in series on the streaming platform.

“From episode to entrée, with Netflix Bites we are creating an in-person experience where fans can immerse themselves in their favorite food shows,” Josh Simon, vice president of consumer products at Netflix, said in a statement at the time.

Skechers, meanwhile, reportedly quietly opened “Food Spot” in May. The eatery, which looks much like a Costco food court, sells a wide range of low-priced menu items outside the brand’s shoe store. Plus, this Food Spot is not Skechers’ first foray into dining. An Instagram post from three years ago showed a Skechers Cafe opening in Moreno Valley, California, and a Yelp page for a Skechers Cafe in the same area showed reviews dating back to 2017.

Plus, in 2021, dating app Bumble opened a Bumble Brew café and wine bar, which was not meant to be a pop-up, but which later shut down in 2022 after a burst pipe. On the company’s most recent earnings call, Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder and CEO (who will soon transition to executive chair), hinted at future offline experiences.

While physical restaurants offer brands the ability to create immersive experiences for consumers, other companies have been turning to the ghost kitchen space to keep their offerings relevant in consumers’ food and beverage routines without the high cost of opening a physical eatery. For instance, for a time, PepsiCo had its Pep’s Place ghost kitchen, and media company Buzzfeed’s First We Feast brand has opened ghost kitchens for its popular “Hot Ones” series.