The crew behind that already-infamous "Saved By The Bell" parody pop-up in Wicker Park continues to scurry about in anticipation of their June month-long launch. They're running all aspects by their legal team wanting to protect themselves from the lawyers at NBC. That means organizer Derek Berry isn't yet ready to detail menu items or share the name of the chef or even a location, but that doesn't mean there aren't other reveals.
"Everything happened so organically," Berry said. "I thought of this idea and I put the event page up on a Sunday night, and at around 10 in the morning [on Monday], my wife was like 'have you seen Chicagoist?...The thing you were talking about last night, are you actually doing it? Because it's got 5,000 Facebook likes and it's trending already.'"
Berry, as Chicagoist reported, comes from an events background, as he's the events coordinator over at Beauty Bar and a former DJ. He's a huge fan, so unlike past pop-ups, Berry wants "Saved By The Max" to be the ultimate "Saved By The Bell" experience. Through event organizing he's made friendships, including rubbing elbows with actors Dustin Diamond (Screech) and Dennis Haskins (Richard Belding). Some, including Mario Lopez (A.C. Slater) have posted their reactions. There are more announcements to come, but here's what to expect in June:
• Berry said no one's guessed where the pop-up will take place and it will be a surprise in "the heart of Wicker Park." One clue is that they'll use the space's existing liquor license. The lease has been signed.
• When Diamond's four-month prison sentence runs out (scheduled for May), he may even make an appearance, as would other actors, Berry said.
• "Saved By The Bell"'s original title was "Good Morning, Miss Bliss," and starred Haley Mills as Zack and Screech's teacher at an Indiana grade school. And although Berry was guarded about the menu, he mentioned "Miss Bliss' Candied Bacon." Expect American diner food.
• During the day, they'll serve lunch food, and the scene will be "like Hot Doug's," Berry said, which means folks will be in and out. At night, they'll take dinner reservations with packages that will include concerts and perhaps those aforementioned cast appearances.
• The pop-up could lead to a permanent restaurant, depending on success: "There's definitely talks of that. If it goes, knock on the wood, it goes."
• The pop-up's contractor spent two hours with Berry and other team members watching episodes in the name of getting the details and dimensions of The Max right. They spent even more time surfing the Internet for more images to literally cover all the angles.
• Berry said he's not going for a nightclub feeling. He also doesn't want to shake down customers similar to what many fan conventions do, but there will be merchandise available to purchase.
• Certain nights will be themed. "Bayside After Dark," karaoke, spring dances and trivia, for example. Also expect a 21+ event where they'll transform the space to The Attic, the fictional club where the Bayside kids used fake IDs to get into.
• The Max ranks in Berry's top three TV restaurants. The other two? Central Perk from "Friends" and Monk's Café from "Seinfeld."
• Cast members of "Saved By The Bell: The New Class" haven't been contacted. That's the spin off that came after the original cast graduated high school. "It's not really my thing," Berry said. "But I'm open to it."