Fans of Friends may well be happily celebrating the show’s 25th anniversary, but not everyone is quite so thrilled.
The owner of the iconic restaurant that was home to the cast of iconic series has revealed he is facing a daily battle with hundreds of overzealous fans who regularly deface the building.
Joey Campanaro, chef and owner of Little Owl Restaurant at 90 Bedford Street space, which housed the fictional “Central Perk” coffee shop, told New York Post that fans of the show have been vandalizing his beloved establishment.
He claimed fans regularly block sidewalks as they take selfies next to the building and have defaced the walls with graffiti, opting to use famous quotes from the series.
Campanaro, 47, told the Post: “It’s annoying. They’re behaving as if there’s zero accountability.”
The Chef claimed “hundreds” of people are visiting the iconic building and that there would often be “10 to 15 people a day writing on the wall.”
Last month, fans of the hit show—which aired for ten seasons from 1994 to 2004—began writing on the building with “permanent marker and lipstick,” Campanaro said.
He told the publication: “It’s monkey see, monkey do.
“Take a picture of it and share it on social media. It’s become a bit of a cult.”
He added that some fans had even asked the restaurant for Sharpies so they can write on the walls while others try to grab markers through an open window of the building.
The chef said he had warned vandals that writing on the wall was illegal but it appears to have fallen on deaf ears.
According to Legal Match, the punishments for graffiti include a fine, jail time, community service, and alternative punishments.
In some cases, those found guilty of graffiti can be expected to pay a $10,000 fine and complete a prison sentence of 1 to 3 years.
Campanaro said he has ordered signs informing fans that it is illegal to write on the walls and that they are under surveillance but believes he will now have to spend a “couple thousand” dollars to fix the defaced walls.
Despite the ongoing problems, the chef admitted that he is the one who may actually be responsible for the situation.
He explained that back in 2011, a street-artist friend had written “I love Joey” in chalk on the side of the building and, despite the rain and snow, the message had not moved for years.
“I think a tourist thought that was meant for [Friends character] Joey Tribbiani and not Joey Campanaro,” he said.