On Friends, (1994-2004) Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), Chandler (Matthew Perry), Ross (David Schwimmer), Monica (Courteney Cox), Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) and Joey (Matt LeBlanc) spend a lot of time just hanging out, and one of their favorite places to gather, gab, and grab a caffeine fix is Central Perk. Located just 97 steps from Joey and Chandler's apartment, the coffeehouse is so familiar to fans of the show it's like another cast member.
Even the most die-hard fans who know the ins and outs of the series: every fight, every kiss, every makeup and break up, may not recall every detail about the iconic hangout that kept the friends heavily caffeinated. Here are 10 hidden details you may not have noticed about Central Perk.
10 The Backdrop
During season 1, the scenery outside Central Perk's front window was just a painted backdrop. A set was later created to resemble a city block when filming moved to a larger stage. Along with Central Perk (with its distinctive red, white, and blue awning), there were several businesses nearby including a newsstand where Rachel meets a potential suitor and the gang reads one of Joey's many terrible reviews, a florist, a restaurant named Dot's Spot, a deli and a record store. It's on this street that Chandler and Ross almost get into a fight with some bullies, where Phoebe marries Mike, and the scene of the crime when Rachel steals Monica's Porsche for a joyride.
9 The Reserved Sign
The orange couch where the gang whiled away the hours was rescued from the Warner Bros. Studios basement. The mystery surrounding how our favorite friends can always score a seat in the busy coffee place isn't a mystery at all. These VIPs reserved it. The sign can be seen sitting on the table in front of the shabby chic piece of furniture. In Kelsey Miller's book, I'll Be There For You: The One About Friends, show co-creator Marta Kauffman reveals the couch was originally supposed to be beige, but the network insisted on a different color.
8 There's Coffee In Those Cups
According to James Michael Taylor who played Gunther, those oversized coffee mugs aren't always empty. If the scene called for one of the main characters to take a sip, a real latte or cappuccino was brought from backstage, Taylor told the Express. Extras, on the other hand, had to improvise with empty cups.
While Gunther fired Joey for slacking off, Taylor confessed that his role as a bustling barista was a lot of show and not much go. The bulk of his performance involved moving around, looking busy and reaching for things (at least until halfway through season 2 when he was given the name Gunther and a speaking role). Fans remember Gunther also spent a great deal of time ogling Rachel, whom he had a crush on for the show's entire 10 season run.
7 The Menu
Let's just say it, Friends put coffeehouses on the map. Central Perk didn't have an expansive menu, but the sandwich board out front did advertise imported coffee and teas. You wouldn't find a pumpkin spice latte on the menu, but in addition to staples such as espresso and cappuccino, Central Perk had some specialty drinks with an NYC theme: Manhattan Mocha, Long Island Cream, Urban Tribe Java and Ms. Liberty Blend. If the friends felt peckish, there was also an assortment of sweet treats. (Joey was guilty of absconding with at least one of Phoebe's unattended muffins) -- some of which could be seen encased under glass on the counter.
6 The Billboard At The End Of The Building
Central Perk featured varied entertainment which was advertised on a billboard at the end of the building. One must-see act was live performances by Phoebe Buffay on Fridays and Saturdays. However, in season 2, episode 6, "The One with the Baby on the Bus," Phoebe plays on Sunday afternoons until the owner forces Rachel to fire Phoebe because she's so incredibly horrible (not sure how you can fire someone who doesn't get paid). Patrons could also enjoy the occasional poetry reading and open mic nites. Fans may recall even Ross took the stage to share his "sound" with the world.
5 The Coffeehouse Was Almost A Diner
Network executives weren't initially on board with coffeehouse setting, worried it would be too "too trendy." They lobbied for a Seinfeld-ish diner instead, obviously hoping that by using a similar group hang venue, they could replicate the hit series' success.
But the show's creators were convinced a coffee place would work. One of the original working titles of the show was Insomnia Cafe because the characters sat around drinking so much coffee (before breaking up with Janice for the first time, Chandler consumes 12 espressos).
4 The Artwork
The artwork on the walls of Central Perk was changed every three episodes. This attention to detail was meant to replicate the indie vibe of independent coffeehouses. Former Pittsburgh based artist Burton Morris created over a dozen original pop art paintings (including iconic images of King Kong and the Statue of Liberty) that graced the walls of Central Perk throughout Friends' 10 seasons. Although with epic events like Ross and Rachel's first kiss occurring at the java joint, it's questionable how many viewers even noticed.
3 Gunther Was The Real Deal
James Michael Taylor who played Central Perk employee Gunther told Buzzfeed he actually worked as a barista at a Hollywood coffee place called the Bourgeois Pig. He was hired as the "coffee guy" to add authenticity to stand by the espresso machine and pretend to work it. Ironically, Taylor never made one single cup of coffee. While Monica's refrigerator was kept cold and stocked with drinks and snacks for cast and crew, the antique espresso machine was just too loud according to Taylor. The actor kept a few shifts at his pre-Friends job for four years following his big break.
2 The Owner
While Gunther appears in 149 episodes of the long-running sitcom, Central Perk's owner, Terry (Max Wright) only appears in two, "The One Where Underdog Gets Away" and "The One With the Baby on the Bus." Oddly, it's Gunther who becomes synonymous with the coffeehouse, and it may have something to do with Terry's outspokenness about Rachel being a "terrible, terrible waitress," and who describes Phoebe's singing as so bad it made him "want to put his finger through his eye into my brain and swirl it around." Who needs that kind of negative energy around anyway?
1 Coffee Brands And The Famous Logo
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, set designer Greg Grande spilled the beans about Central Perk. The orange couch remained untouched, but Grande made other subtle changes like replacing flowers and reupholstering other seating. The important thing was that Central Perk always felt homey and not like some sterile internet cafe.
Grande and his crew also began creating their own coffee logos and brands in season 2. They can be seen on display at the counter. Grande admits he played a huge part in coming up with the Central Park logo, something he's especially proud of.