How’s Joey Campanaro doin’? Not so great, if you ask the New York City restaurant owner.
Campanaro, who is the chef and owner of the Little Owl restaurant, recently spoke to the New York Post and revealed that he’s getting tired of the tourists who constantly gather outside of his eatery at 90 Bedford St. in Greenwich Village.
But the food isn’t the only thing that’s causing people to flock to his restaurant — the space was also famously used as the exterior for the fictitious Central Perk coffee shop in Friends.
Fans have recently been crowding outside his restaurant to take a photo with the place where Ross Geller, Monica Geller, Rachel Green, Phoebe Buffay, Joey Tribbiani and Chandler Bing often gathered to chat over a cup of coffee.
While some tourists simply want a photograph, others have been defacing his property by signing their name and writing their favorite quotes from the beloved sitcom on his restaurant’s brick wall — and it’s only gotten worse amid the hype around Friends‘ 25th anniversary.
“It’s annoying,” Campanaro, 47, told the New York Post. “They’re behaving as if there’s zero accountability.”
“It’s monkey see, monkey do,” he added. “Take a picture of it and share it on social media. It’s become a bit of a cult.”
Campanaro said the amount of visitors depends on the day and weather, though he estimated that “hundreds of people” stop by on an average day, with the number drastically increasing during the weekends.
“Over the weekends, it’s closer to 1,000,” he said, noting that many of the people who visit will sign their names and write on the wall with permanent marker or lipstick.
Some tourists have even gone to extreme lengths to mark up the brick wall, asking the Little Owl’s employees for Sharpies or attempting to grab markers through the restaurant office’s open window.
Though he’s bothered by their constant graffiti writing and frequently tells the vandals to stop because it’s considered illegal and a class-A demeanor, Campanaro told the outlet that he partially feels responsible for the trend.
His reasoning stems back to an encounter from 2011 when he served dinner to a friend, who also happened to be a street artist. After enjoying the dinner, the friend wrote “I love Joey” in sidewalk chalk on the side of his restaurant as a sign of appreciation for the chef.
However, that little note has remained on the side of the building for years, weathering both rain and snow, leading Friends fans to assume it has another meaning.
“I think a tourist thought that was meant for Joey Tribbiani and not Joey Campanaro,” the restaurant owner joked.
In the meantime, Campanaro said he plans on sandblasting the restaurant’s wall, which he predicted will cost “a couple thousand” dollars — a price that he’s willing to pay.
Fans will also be discouraged to write on the wall with a sign that Campanaro is planning to hang, which will inform them that their actions are illegal and that they are being watched under video surveillance.