The one where... we went to the Friends Central Perk replica in SoHo
20 (ugh, yes 20) years ago, we met Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Chandler, Ross, and Joey. To celebrate Friends turning the big two-oh, Warner Bros. and Eight O’Clock Coffee teamed up for a Central Perk pop-up in SoHo that looks pretty much exactly like the one from the show, from the orange couch to Gunther (yes Gunther!). Here's everything you need to know about it (starting with the fact that the coffee is free!):
It really looks like Central Perk
In addition to the orange couch, they’ve got tables (!!) and stools (!!!!) that look just like the ones from the show, plus episodes playing on a flatscreen and drawings of important sets (like the iconic Friends apartment).
There’s free coffee, and it's really good
A fully functioning bar serves up free cups of Eight O’Clock Coffee, including Dark Italian Espresso, The Original Decaf, Caramel Macchiato, and a limited-edition Central Perk Roast. We tried it, and we approve.
Could there be a more extensive prop collection for your viewing pleasure?
No. There could not. It includes some pretty well-known goods too, like Joey’s dog statue, Phoebe’s guitar, and Smelly Cat Litter...
... plus tons of deep-cut stuff
They also have Ursula’s porn tape (Buffay the Vampire Layer), Dr. Drake Ramoray's name tag (RIP), Rachel’s sonogram, and a Soap Opera Digest with Joey on the cover.
James Michael Tyler (aka Gunther) had a serious coffee shop background
He was actually a barista in a real coffee shop (the Bourgeois Pig in Hollywood) when he was hired to be on Friends, and he kept his job for four years while on the show. Tyler says his other office was "very much like Central Perk... I’d have a shift at Bourgeois Pig on a Thursday night, and then on a Friday morning I’d go to the set of Friends and work in a pretend coffee shop. And there was a point when Friends was getting really popular, and I was still working at the Bourgeois Pig... so I’d be there with my white hair serving real coffee and people would come in be like 'can I get a -- what are you doing here?'."
It was also a complete accident that he looked the part
The night before his Friends audition, Tyler's friend, a stylist, wanted to practice bleaching on him -- so he went in with his hair like that the next morning. “I guess the look worked, for like, a barista circa 1994 in New York," Tyler says. He was on the show for a year and a half as an extra before getting his first line.
And while there will never be a proper Friends reunion...
... in a fantasy world where that could conceivably happen, Tyler says, "considering I re-bleached my hair for this appearance, I could perhaps be persuaded." One down, six to go.
The Central Perk pop-up is located at 199 Lafayette St, and is open Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, and Sat-Sun 10am-8pm.
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Lucy Meilus is an Editorial Assistant at Thrillist and is freaked out by the fact that Ben (Ross’ son, duh) would be 19 years old now. Follow her on Twitter @lucymeilus.