New York can be an intimidating sprawl when you’re new to town, so sometimes it’s nice to pop to a place that’s slightly more recognizable.
My sister Charlotte is visiting from New Zealand and, while she isn’t scared by the size of the city, I still thought it would be good to visit an old, familiar favorite: Central Perk.
Even though we all know and love it from binge-watching Friends episodes, there is no real Central Perk in New York. Rather, a temporary Central Perk has opened on the corner of Lafayette and Broome to mark the 20th anniversary of the first ever show (20 years!).
So we decided to pop by the cafe to grab a coffee – hopefully served by Rachel.
We headed there around 2pm on Monday and the queue was 40 minutes long. The crew guarding the line told us that on Saturday – when it bucketed it down with rain – Friends fans waited four hours just to get a glimpse inside.
Let me tell you now – four hours is not worth it. Forty minutes isn’t really, either.
After lining around the block, we got inside and were served with our free cups of coffee (which did taste like Rachel had made them).
At the entrance, there was Friends memorabilia – costumes, scripts, Joey’s face on Soap Opera Digest and Ursula’s porn tape surrounded by photos from the show. I hadn’t expected this, so it was a great bonus. Those clothes!
But the rest of it? Blurgh.
I honestly thought (as everyone else probably did) that they would have made some effort to recreate Central Perk. But the space was simply a large room lined with memorabilia, a coffee counter and a stand to buy Friends merchandise.
Then, in one corner, there was the orange couch placed in front of a cafe background. But even that wasn’t right. The picture didn’t match up with the scene you see behind the couch in the show. Sloppy, eh?
Part of me is glad that I went to see what all the fuss is about, but I quickly learned that it was a poor effort and definitely not worth a wait. The one saving grace was that we didn’t have to pay.
I loved that show, but this was a weak tribute to something that deserved much more.
So if you fancy a Friends fix, take my advice and skip Central Perk. Head to Greenwich Village instead and have a peek at their apartment. (It’s at the corner of Grove and Bedford streets)