‘Saved by the Bell' Pop-Up Restaurant Extends Chicago Stay – Again

Fans of the iconic '90s TV show "Saved by the Bell" can now get a taste of how their favorite Bayside High gang dined for even longer.

Chicago's Saved by the Max diner, a pop-up diner and replica of The Max in the city's Wicker Park neighborhood, has extended its stay through Dec. 31.

"Due to the high fan demand and ever increasing walk in lines, Saved by The Max is happy to announce they've been granted permission to extend service through December 31st of this year," the restaurant said in a statement Monday.

Tickets for reservations for the remainder of the year go on sale Tuesday at 11 a.m.

The eatery will be open nightly for ticketed dinners. It also offers walk-in brunch and late night service. Tickets for the dinners through Aug. 31 have already sold out. 

A $35 ticket gets you an appetizer, entree and dessert. Local chef Brian Fisher curated a menu that pays homage to Zack, Slater, Screech and other characters from the show, but also is a step above regular diner food. Items include A.C. Sliders, Mac & Screech and a Preppy BLT. Unlike the TV diner, there is a cocktail menu. 

The fictitious Southern California hangout known as The Max was where students would hash things out over fries and milkshakes. 

"Saved by the Bell," which ran from 1989-1992, was a sunny sitcom about a group of friends at Bayside High School in Southern California. Taking a page from the comedy movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," the school was often run more by the teens than their hapless principal. The show was both ridiculed and embraced for its zany plot lines. 

The mastermind behind the diner is Derek Berry, a bar events manager who has been "obsessed" with "Saved by the Bell" since he was a kid.

The 33-year-old, a former DJ at '90s nostalgia-oriented events, collaborated on the diner concept with two friends also in the service and events industries, Steve Harris and Zack Eastman. They found a contractor to revamp the space and spoke with representatives from NBC Universal, which owns rights to the show. 

The entertainment company was immediately on board and helped ensure that the pop-up diner replicated The Max down to "the corner of the door," Berry said. 

Dinner tickets went on sale in April and sold out within minutes. That prompted an extension to the end of August. Tickets sold out in minutes again. 

"I said the night before we went on sale, I'd be really happy if we could sell a couple days out and then go into this and just have a really cool, successful run," Berry said. "This is awesome but now we really need to nail this. People need to come in and go 'Whoa, I'm here.'" 

The overwhelming interest hasn't escaped cast and crew from the show. Producer and writer Peter Engel will appear at the diner this summer. Invites have gone out to the actors including "Extra" TV host Mario Lopez, who played jock A.C. Slater and has talked about the diner on his iHeartRadio show, according to Berry. 

With a recent wave of '80s and '90s shows such as "Full House" getting revived, Berry said he knows the interest is completely nostalgia-driven. He also gives some credit to "Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon. The late-night comedian's "Saved by the Bell" skit last year with original cast members has more than 33 million hits on YouTube. The restaurant has gotten inquiries from fans as young as 21 to 40-somethings who grew up on it. 

"Someone emailed me from Australia as an inquiry, asking if they could get married here," Berry said. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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