NEW YORK - Obsessed Friends fans on Wednesday mobbed a pop-up replica of the coffee house from the hit comedy series, some even camping out overnight for some free java and a healthy dose of nostalgia.
Central Perk was the celluloid coffee shop where Joey, Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, Monica and Chandler captivated millions with tales of their revolving-door love lives, work traumas, make-ups and break-ups. To mark the 20th anniversary of the sitcom, sponsors opened a mock-up of the coffee bar, where New Yorkers and tourists alike took photographs on the orange sofa from the show, shopped for souvenirs and got free coffee.
Andres Pratts, 27, who works at an animal hospital in Manhattan, said the queue was already down the block when he arrived at 8:00 am, on his morning off. Pratts is so obsessed with the hit series that he's naming his pet bulldog Bing - after the character Chandler Bing - and was queuing up to buy some ground coffee.
"It's beautiful," he said. "I love how you can take a picture on the couch. I love the memorabilia."
Costumes worn by the show's six main characters are on display, along with the coffee machine from the real Central Perk cafe, pictures and other props.
Lauren Greasley, 30, who was on holiday with boyfriend Richard from South Wales, said it was the highlight of their two-week US adventure so far. "It's great. It's really good. It's cool," she said as she took pictures of the sofa.
Fans dismissed any suggestion that the show - pre-Internet, pre-mobile phone and in some cases older than those queuing to get in - was in any way outdated.
Laura Cameron, who works in IT in Melbourne, said it was the highlight of her stay in the Big Apple, although father Don was less keen.
"The coffee is pretty terrible," he said.
Brazilian au pairs Valva Fernandes, 23, and Marilia Willrich, 22, took the morning off work and said it was "so exciting" to be able to sit on the sofa from the show.
A representative from sponsor Eight O'Clock Coffee said that more than 250 people had been let in during the first two hours, and that a few ardent fans even camped out overnight on the sidewalk to be first in line.
"This has exceeded all our expectations," she said as staff let in around 50 people at a time, to prevent the cafe from getting overcrowded.
The cafe will stay open until October 18 on Lafayette and Broome streets in SoHo, one of New York's trendiest neighbourhoods. Actor James Michael Tyler, who played the quirky bond barista Gunther, will make appearances throughout the pop-up run.
The hit show, seen on US television from 1994 to 2004, won dozens of awards and garnered global celebrity for actors Jennifer Aniston, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox and Matthew Perry.