Around Town: The Central Perk

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

By Anna Creatura

What: Central Perk

Neighborhood: Soho

Address: 199 Lafeyette St.

Since the early 2000s, pop-up shops have existed as a way to stir up buzz for a brand, market a new product or even sell seasonal merchandise. This September, a very unusual shop is becoming a temporary addition to the New York scene. The cafe from the popular ‘90s TV show “Friends,” The Central Perk, will be open for business for a month this fall.

The idea of a pop-up is fairly recent and has been gaining popularity. Brands have used these temporary retail spaces in a variety of ways: sell any product that is in limited supply, to provide a permanent, affordable retail space or to target a limited demographic. In a world where retail is on a slow decline, pop-up stores continue to be a revolutionary way to keep customers shopping.

While merchandisers primarily use pop-ups, this trend extends further than the retail world. One of the more notable and unique pop-ups is the Le Diner en Blanc.  Originally started in Europe, participants dress all in white, bring chairs and tables and congregate to enjoy a fancy picnic together in the park. This year, more than 5,000 New Yorkers participated. It’s more of a pop up party than anything else.

Another use for the pop-up idea is a temporary tourist attraction to generate buzz for a new show, like HBO did when they brought a pop-up “Game of Thrones” museum to Manhattan last year.  The exhibit included original set pieces and costumes from the show, and even allowed fans a photo op on the iron throne. This pop-up engaged current fans and created interest for the new season.

The Central Perk pop-up is a tourist attraction, a café, and a party all at once. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the show’s premier, Warner Bros. and Eight O’Clock Coffee are teaming up to bring this fictional cafe to life.  Fans of “Friends,” both old and new, will be able to enjoy coffee and sit on the actual orange couch used in the show.  Visitors will also be treated to live music, including renditions of Phoebe’s songs, like “Smelly Cat.”

“Friends” ran for 10 seasons, from 1994 to 2004, and is one of the most popular sitcoms of all time. It was nominated for 62 Emmy awards and won in 2002 for Outstanding Comedy Series. More than 50 million Americans watched its final episode, making it the most-watched episode of the decade.

More than just a TV show, “Friends” had a large impact on American culture, much like “How I Met Your Mother” has done for our generation. Maybe in 10 years they will open up a MacLaren’s pub on the Upper West Side.

The Central Perk pop up cafe will open on Wednesday Sept. 17  at 199 Lafayette Street, and remain open until Saturday, Oct. 18.  Be sure to stop by for a coffee and a photo!

Other notable pop-ups this fall include:

The Endless Summer Vegan Pop Up: New York’s only all-vegan market—Sept. 21, Oct. 11, Nov. 15, Dec. 6 and Dec. 20 at the Pine Box Rock Shop in Brooklyn.

Et Tu Tutu: Create your own TuTu—Sept. 18-20 at The Market NYC.

Street Artist Pop-Up Tour: Support Artisans from Haiti and the Dominican Republic—Sept. 26 in Greenwich Village.