REVIEW: CENTRAL PERK NYC POP-UP SHOP
I finally made it to Central Perk, the (temporary) mecca for any Friends super-fan like myself. It took some serious dedication. I waited in line for two and a half hours in the rain, and I even got splashed by a passing car. My friends and I thought the rain might make it less crowded, but apparently everyone had the same thought, because the line was the longest I’ve seen so far, wrapping around multiple blocks. When I first joined the line in the pouring rain, I was pretty miserable and didn’t know if I wanted to stay, but as soon as I stepped inside Central Perk, it was obvious that the wait and the rain and the cold had been worth it.
Right where we walked in, there was an entire wall of museum-like displays filled with wardrobes and props. The Pat the Dog statue. Monica’s outfit from karaoke when everyone could see through her shirt. Ross’ leather pants. The Geller Cup. Phoebe/Ursula’s porno. Monica and Chandler’s wedding invitation and vows. Rachel’s sonogram. Joey’s Soap Opera Digest cover. Science Boy. Signed scripts from the pilot (back when it was called Six of One) and the two-part finale. My friend and I were so giddy we were laughing for no reason. We just couldn’t help it – the Geller Cup was right in front of us!
There was a line to get your picture taken on the famous orange couch. My sister asked me, “How did it feel to place your butt in a spot where all of their butts have been?” My response: transcendent. The couch was extremely worn with squished-down cushions, and you could tell tourists have been sitting on it for the past ten years at the Warner Bros studio in Los Angeles, but it was a moment I’ll never forget. The photo process was super strict: one device, one photo per person. If you wanted an individual shot and a group shot, you had to wait in line more than once. (Which I did, so joke’s on them.)
After waiting in the couch line, getting my free coffee, watching some funny Friends clips on the big screen in the back (“PIVOT!”), taking millions of pictures of everything, and spending an obscene amount of money on Friends and Central Perk merchandise, I reluctantly left.
There are some things I would change about NYC’s Central Perk, like the fact that it doesn’t actually look anything like the one in the show, and that the vibe is much more attraction-y than coffee shop-y. But that’s to be expected when it’s only going to be around for a month – there are a lot of Friends fans to cram into that tiny shop in a few short weeks. My suggestion is to create a permanent replica of Central Perk in Greenwich Village (without the real couch and all the memorabilia) that’s run as a real working coffee shop. Without the urgency of “limited time only,” maybe Central Perk could function as an actual (still quite busy) café rather than a tourist attraction. Even so, the pop-up shop was 100% worth the wait.
It’s just a TV show, but for us Friends mega-fans, it’s always been so real. We feel like the Friends are our friends. And just like in the theme song, they’re always there for us when we need a laugh and some familiar company. If you love Friends as much as I do, visiting the Central Perk pop-up shop in Soho is an incredibly special experience. It brings Friends to life for a brief moment in time. You can go experience it for yourself through October 18th. Happy 20th Anniversary, Friends!
About the writer: Anjuli has been a TV/movie fangirl for as long as she can remember and a loyal OLTer since she was 16. She loves most television shows, but some of her favorites are Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The Blacklist, and Person of Interest. She enjoys tracking down productions on the streets of NYC and probably spends too much time thinking about the lives of fictional characters.