Celebrating 20 Years of 'Friends' Inside the Real Central Perk

Erik Matey/WBEI

SoHo pop-up re-creates iconic coffee shop with an array of props and souvenirs

Part Friends museum, part coffee shop, New York's pop-up Central Perk gives fans of the NBC sitcom a chance to experience what it would have been like to hang out with Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler and Ross (and Gunther).

The SoHo space, located at 199 Lafayette St. at the corner of Broome Street, features set pieces re-creating Friends' iconic coffee shop and an array of Friends' props and souvenirs.

On Tuesday night, stars and members of the press got an advance preview of the digs, including a chance to see Gunther, aka James Michael Tyler, in his natural habitat. Tyler also introduced a live performance from The Rembrandts (best known for their iconic Friends theme, which they performed after a few other songs).

Inside the space, fans lined up to have their pictures taken on the Central Perk set replica, including the actual orange couch from the show and a dark green chair and coffee table. Behind the couch is a backdrop designed to look like the Central Perk window and front door; to the right is a group of tall tables in front of a flat-screen TV showing (what else?) Friends.

Across from the Central Perk set replica, inside a large (real) window with the Central Perk logo, the crowd checked out a collection of Friends props and costumes. Directly inside the window, in all of its tacky glory, sits the big white dog followed by costumes worn by each of the main castmembers in specific episodes: Monica's see-through singing ensemble; Ross' leather pants, before he unsuccessfully tried to get them unstuck with powder and lotion; the outfit Joey was wearing when his beloved chair Rosita "died"; and other outfits worn by Phoebe, Rachel and Chandler.

Beside the costumes sits a box of "Smelly Cat" kitty litter, from the episode in which Phoebe's former partner turns her beloved song into an advertising jingle, and the Geller cup (aka a troll doll nailed to a two-by-four).

A smaller group of props is enclosed in a display case, where fans pored over artifacts like Monica and Chandler's wedding rings, invitations and vows; Emma Geller-Green's hospital crib tag (featuring fun facts like the newborn's weight, length and time of birth and a "Ross Pediatrics" logo); Emma's sonogram (the one where Rachel couldn't see her baby); Ross' Science Boy comic; the cover of the Buffay the Vampire Layer porn video; Dr. Drake Ramoray's name tag; a ticket to the taping of the pilot episode, when the show was still called Friends Like Us; Joey's second Soap Opera Digest interview and Ross' laminated list of five celebrities he's allowed to sleep with (sorry, Isabella Rossellini).

The pop-up also features a counter where fans can get free cups of coffee (courtesy of partner Eight O'Clock Coffee), including an old-fashioned cash register, service sign and cappuccino maker just like the ones on the show. To the right of the coffee counter is a framed collection of autographed copies of the pilot and final scripts and cast photos from throughout the show's run.

Across from the coffee counter, fans can also stock up on Friends goods including T-shirts, tote bags with some of the show's memorable quotes ("Pivot!" and "a moo point"), mugs, coffee and more. Behind the merchandise display is the same neon "Friends" sign that hung above the audience seating area on Stage 24 of their Burbank film studio.

The pop-up's brightly colored walls are adorned with a collage of black-and-white photos from the show's 10 seasons, featuring memorable scenes and moments like Ross and Joey's nap, Rachel's bridal debut, Monica and Chandler getting married, Ross and Rachel with Emma, Monica's Dudley Moore haircut and the long poking device and pictures with guest stars like Alec Baldwin, Brad Pitt, Danny DeVito and Julia Roberts.

The Central Perk pop-up shop, designed to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the series premiere of Friends, will be open through Oct. 18. Fans can also win a trip to New York to visit the pop-up shop by playing a watch-and-win game through Sept. 26 with Friends' syndicated episodes.

TBS is also celebrating Friends' 20th anniversary with a marathon of 20 fan-selected episodes on Monday, Sept. 22, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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