Widly popular 90s teenage sitcom “Saved by the Bell” has left a lasting impression in the pop culture world. Who doesn’t remember the smooth-talking Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselar) and his on-again, off-again, on-again, (you know the deal) relationship with cheerleader Kelly Kapowski (Tiffani Thiessen). Jock A.C. Slater (Mario Lopez) and his tumultuous relationship with Jesse Spano (Elizabeth Berkley). And lovable, awkward and dorky Samuel “Screech” Powers (Dustin Diamond). Don’t forget principal Belding!
Derek Berry, a fan of the series and long time Chicago-based events planner, has been creating throwback nights showcasing the 80s, 90s, and even a Y2K night. Remember that hoopla? Now he has put a team together to recreate the iconic diner where the Bayside gang hung out… The Max.
“Being, like, a huge ‘Saved by the Bell’ fan, I instantly thought of where I would like to eat, what would be totally iconic to be in,” said Berry, the pop-up’s creator.
The new diner, which opens today (June 1) in Chicago, is aptly named “Saved by the Max” and is already getting inundated with calls and requests. Tickets for dinner reservations sold out in less than 30 minutes, but there is still walk-in availability for late-night meals and weekend brunch. But dining there isn’t the only thing people are calling about…
“We’ve had people reach out from other countries asking to get married here,” Berry revealed. “I’m thinking about trying to get a license and me personally marrying them dressed up as Zack Morris, so, maybe, you know? There’s a definite possibility.”
Not only can you visit The Max, but you will also find memorabilia and references to Bayside High School and some of the show’s episodes. The hallway/locker space where so many scenes were filmed, a touch of Mr. Belding’s office, and Bayside logos, wall hangings, and phrases uttered from the sitcom.
“We studied this show and did everything we could to pull these little pieces off and implement them,” said Berry.
When Berry caught wind of a restaurant becoming available in the Wicker Park area, albeit only temporary, he leaped into action. He assembled a group to help him recreate the look and feel of the 90s hangout, with its neon accents, jukebox, video games, and crazy designs. Berry also enlisted the help of Michelin-star chef Brian Fisher to create the SBTB-themed menu with classic diner selections and incorporating the show’s characters into the names of the dishes. Enjoy Mac & Screech, a Bayside Burger, A.C. Sliders, a Lisa Turtle milkshake, or have a seat at the full bar featuring Bayside-inspired drinks.
“It’s like the most fun job I’ve ever had,” Berry said of transforming the space in little under a month. “I was up until 3:00 in the morning last night searching ‘Saved by the Bell’ quotes so we can paint [them] on the walls.”
In keeping with the Saved by the Bell theme and to establish an experience, the staff dress in the signature uniform from the TV show’s diner —red T-shirt paired with black shorts or slacks plus a matching apron. Ed Alonzo will reprise the role of namesake magician-owner of The Max and is set to perform magic tricks for the grand opening—just one of the many late-night ‘Bayside After Dark’ events scheduled. Others include Tuesday Saved by the Bell trivia challenges and Sunday performances from the diner’s in-house band, The Zack Attack.
“I can barely believe when I’m in there—I mean, I feel like I’m on the set of the show, I really do.”
The “Saved by the Max” pop-up diner is now open in Chicago and will operate until August 31 and is located at 1941 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60622