#Friends25: Behind the Scenes at Central Perk

By Friends of "Friends" Archives
Cover image for  article: #Friends25:  Behind the Scenes at Central Perk

MediaVillage continues its celebration of all things Friends, leading up to the 25th anniversary of the premiere, with something a little different.  We’ve unearthed some exclusive, never-before-seen photos of the iconic sets used throughout the series’ 10-year run.  In the first of three photo features we explore Central Perk, which like any great sitcom set is considered by some to be a member of the cast.  The famed coffee house played home to barista Gunther, provided Rachel her first job, and later offered employment to  Joey.  It gave Phoebe a platform to perform for her quirky original ditties, and while she also technically worked there, she did so for free.  Central Perk played a pivotal role in the moment Ross and Rachel finally got together, and was the backdrop for some of the show’s most memorable guest-stars, like Isabella Rossellini in The One with Frank Jr., in which Ross hit on her while holding his laminated list of celebrities he was allowed to cheat with.  Robin Williams and Billy Crystal made cameos sitting on the orange Central Perk couch in The One with the Ultimate Fighting Champion.  While a lot of attention to detail was taken with the contents of the set, rarely did we get a close look at what those details were, like the blends of coffees available, or the signage.  So, scroll and stroll through Central Perk and its surrounding street area and get reacquainted. 

It’s been replicated for events and pop-up’s all over the world, but the awning on the real Central Perk was actually red, blue and white, something that the tributes never seem to be able to get quite right.

There was a billboard at the end of Central Perk advertising upcoming events.

The sandwich board outside Central Perk advertised they sold imported coffee and teas.  While none of the six friends ever asked for a specific blend by name, there was always the option of a 5th Avenue Blend, Manhattan Mocha or Central Jolt.

It usually appeared in the background, and Phoebe sat there in The One With Two Parts after Helen Hunt as her Mad About You character Jamie Buchman mistook her for her twin sister Ursula (whom Kudrow played on Hunt's show), but the backgammon game was a constant in this area, just to the left of the main couch.

The famed sign that was featured in many episodes.

The street outside Central Perk was also home to Dot’s Spot.  Wonder why that wasn’t the restaurant of choice for those fancy dinners Phoebe, Rachel and Joey could never afford?  And if you were wondering, Central Perk advertised Phoebe as a regular every Friday and Saturday night.

The chalkboard behind the counter in Central Perk broke down exactly what was in those imported coffees, suggesting a 5th Avenue blend if you were going shopping, and not to indulge in needlepoint after a caffeine laden Central Jolt.

While it was featured in many of the outside scenes, the newsstand by Central Perk wasn’t exactly bustling with browsers.

Phoebe’s Central Perk residency was illuminated with a green light.  What’s a New York Village street without a used record store?  The gang on Friends had Free Being Records where it’s entirely possible Chandler picked up his two copies of the Annie soundtrack.

We can only assume, in addition to keeping a spotless apartment, Monica also cleaned the Village street outside Central Perk.  I know! So clean!  

In addition a florist and Free Being Records, Dottie & Herman’s Deli was a permanent fixture right by Central Perk.

Photos in story courtesy of Kevin Dickson.

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