Few fans of
the Friends television show may have dared to dream that one day they would sit
and sip on the famous orange couch at Central Perk, the coffeehouse where the character Rachel worked at the start of this culturally defining show. But through 18 October in New York City, devotees will have the opportunity to do just that – with free
coffee, no less – at the Central
Perk pop-up created by Warner Bros and Eight O’Clock Coffee to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the show's premiere.
Operating in trendy Soho, about a mile east of the West Village, where Central
Perk was supposedly located on the show, the coffee shop features the official couch from the
Friends set (get there early to nab a seat), as well as the original neon signage and ornate espresso maker. With
its bright lights and colour palette, the set has
been replicated so closely that James Michael Tyler, who
played the barista Gunther,
said he found it surreal to be there.
“I walked in yesterday
morning and I was like, ‘Oh wow, this is really a little too close,’ and it
started flooding back all of the memories,” he said. “And the smell of coffee…
It brought me back, and I had my white hair for the first time in 10 years.” Tyler
had bleached his medium-brown hair every week for the show's
Tyler will be making
special appearances throughout the pop up's life, but
the dates have not been announced. There will also be weekly in-store
performances in homage to Phoebe’s well-known “Smelly Cat” tune, in addition to frequent contests and giveaways.
The space itself is a mini-museum. There’s a costume section with Phoebe’s
polka-dot suede jacket, among others, that
also includes Joey’s Pat the Dog statue and Phoebe’s guitar. A glass-encased
display showcases detailed props such as
Ross’ Freebie List, Rachel’s sonogram and Monica and Chandler’s wedding
invitation and rings.
Fans who can’t make a
pilgrimage to New York City can view – but not enter – the Central Perk set on the Warner Bros VIP Studio Tour in Los Angeles. Or fans
can go to the other two permanent, official Central Perks in England: Liverpool
opened in April 2012 and Chester in April 2013. Entrepreneur and superfan Du
Xin opened a Central Perk in Beijing in 2010 on the sixth floor of an apartment
building and also made a replica of Joey’s apartment. The coffee shop was such
a success that Xin opened a second café in Shanghai in 2012.