Central Perk is a coffee house that the regulars visit often throughout the series. It is situated in New York City's Greenwich Village, near Monica's apartment. It was one of the show's main sets in which the six main characters spent much of their free time conversing. One of the main reasons for this was the fact that it was, as Joey proves in The One With George Stephanopoulos, less than 100 steps from his apartment, counting 97 steps from the apartment to the inside of the shop. It was previously believed that it is based on Cholmondeley's, a coffee shop and lounge in Usen Castle, the alma mater of the show's creators, however Marta Kauffman dismissed this rumor in an interview held at Brandeis in 2009.
The name is a play on words of 'Central Park' (referring to the park, also in New York) and 'perk', referring either to the stimulation gained from coffee consumption or the coffee percolation process.
Rachel works as a waitress at Central Perk from the start of the show till half-way through Season 3. Being pretty much a spoiled, self-centered girl at this point, Rachel clearly shows ineptitude at work, mixing up orders, neglecting her waitressing duties, and showing little care about where everything goes and how it should be done. Ironically, in The One With The Flashback, Rachel is a client at what at that time was the bar, and she comments on the waitress who brings her and her friends some slightly mixed-up drinks, remarking: "how hard is it to get a couple of drinks right[?]". When Joey The One With George Stephanopoulos at Central Perk, Rachel mentions that she would give rude customers a "sneeze muffin".
It turns out that Rachel does not care for her job at Central Perk, but being her only financial income, she has to stick to it. However, she does try for other job opportunities in fashion (mostly during Season 1), with little success. In Season 3, she decides to pursue the fashion business again after Gunther assigns her to re-training, quitting her waitressing job to work with Fortunata Fashions, then moving on to Bloomingdale's.
Joey becomes a waiter at the coffee shop half-way through Season 6. His acting career being at a standstill, Joey is tight on money, so much that he can't afford paying for coffee. When he explains this to Gunther, he admits his bankruptcy, which makes Gunther suggest to him to get a job as a waiter, outlining how "the money's good, plus you get to stare at Rachel as much as you want". Joey reluctantly takes the waitering job.
Like Rachel, Joey shows ineptitude at the job. Unlike Rachel, however, this is mostly due to his immaturity coinciding with the house's policies. He forgets people's orders, eats their leftover snacks, and gives free food to hot girls to try and score dates, but Gunther takes his tips for the day and explains how free food is only a treat for birthday people. Joey then uses this to sing "Happy Birthday" to twenty women in a single day, to which Gunther reacts by forbidding Joey "to distribute birthday muffins".
However, later in the season, Joey's acting career takes a step forward when he gets the lead role in Mac & C.H.E.E.S.E.. This makes him quit his waitering job, which he does without mentioning anything to Gunther. Gunther, however, points this out to him in The One With The Ring, and that he was going to fire Joey anyway.
Layout and furnitureEdit
Throughout the coffee shop are small tables with chairs that extras on the show usually occupy. These, from the main camera angle, are behind the large orange sofa in the middle of the shop. The green chair on the right, the coffee table table, and the table and chair on the left are nearly always used as the main setting for any scenes in Central Perk.
In the earlier episodes, irrespective of how busy the coffee shop became, those seats were always available. The writers turned this into a joke and, in the first episode of season three, the six main characters arrive in the shop to find their seats taken, apparently by Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane, the show's creators. They then look at each other, puzzled, and walk out.
The artwork in the back of Central Perk was changed every three episodes (including images of King Kong and Uncle Sam), but the layout of the furniture remained largely unchanged for the entire series.
The Orange CouchEdit
The most prominent fixture of Central Perk is the large orange couch that the character's usually sit on. It usually seats four of the Friends at one time. One of the others then occupies the green chair on the right and, if all six are present, there is a table with one chair to the left that sits the last person. Rarely is anyone else ever seen on the couch and the guys consider it their own. In one instance, Chandler is seen sitting reading, when a young man comes in and goes to sit down on the green chair, only for Chandler to promptly usher him away. Another example is when Rachel complains about sitting by the window instead of the couch, or when the Friends came in only to see the couch taken, and leave. In The One With The Bullies two bullies 'steal' the seating area, and also steal Chandler's hat.
The couch is also seen in the opening credits of the show in front of the large fountain the cast of Friends dance in. At the end of the credits all of the friends sit on the couch at once as Monica turns off the lamp to the right.
- During season 1 and 2 Gunther is seen as another staff member in Central Perk and a man called Terry is the owner. However in later seasons Gunther is implied to own it.
- In The One with the Flashback we find out that the coffee house was a bar before it became Central Perk and the friends hung out there.
Phoebe Buffay was also a regular fixture in Central Perk, and played songs such as Smelly Cat to often bemused audiences. Phoebe was, at one point, replaced by Stephanie Schiffer, a professional who was hired by Terry. He left and Gunther took over in Season 2 the bullies and later ross geller then took over to as did many other star turns
Cultural Impact Edit
The Central Perk coffee house, one of the principal settings of the series, has inspired various imitations worldwide. In 2006, Iranian businessman Mojtaba Asadian started a Central Perk franchise, registering the name in 32 countries. The decor of the coffee houses is inspired by Friends, featuring replica couches, counters, neon signage and bricks. The coffee houses also contain paintings of the various characters from the series, and televisions playing Friends episodes. James Michael Tyler, who plays the Central Perk manager in the series, Gunther, attended the grand opening of the Dubai cafe, where he worked as a waiter. Central Perk was rebuilt as part of a museum exhibit at Warner Bros. Studios, and was shown on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in October 2008.Jennifer Aniston revisited the set for the first time since the series finale in 2004. From September 24 to October 7, 2009, a Central Perk replica was based at Broadwick Street, Soho, London. The coffee house sold real coffee to customers and featured a display of Friends memorabilia and props, such as the Geller Cup from the season three episode "The One with the Football". In 2009, a dance remix of the song "Smelly Cat" became a popular Internet meme. In Beijing, business owner Du Xin opened a coffee shop named Central Perk in March 2010.