Listen to those alarms, preppies. Today marks the debut of Chicago's most-unlikely and most-anticipated pop-up. The organizers behind Saved By The Max painstakingly transformed the former Geek Bar space in Wicker Park into a facsimile of The Max, the diner where the high school-aged characters featured in the 1990s sitcom "Saved By The Bell" hung out after school. This is fan service at its purest form, as organizer Derek Berry (Beauty Bar) posted a photo of himself this morning sitting in a booth being served by "Saved By The Bell" actor Ed Alonzo with the heading "dreams do come true."
It's not just that '90s color scheme, as Berry said his contractors carefully studied episodes and looked at angles so the restaurant could best emulate the TV show. Visitors won't just take a trip to The Max, but they'll also visit Bayside High School. They've recreated the hallway/locker space where Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselear) and Kelly Kapowski (Tiffani Thiesen) held hands. There's also a section reminiscent of the office where Principal Richard Belding (Dennis Haskins) would dole out sage-like advice to students such as Samuel "Screech" Powers (Dustin Diamond) and AC Slater (Mario Lopez). If only there was a valet reminiscent of those driver's ed episodes.
There's arcade games ("Kung Fu Master" and "Centipede") locked in the corner and even a jukebox to complete the feel. Berry left space to showcase show props and his personal fan collection, as there's plenty of Easter Eggs with references littered throughout. But unlike TV's The Max, there's also a bar with boozy beverages and flatscreen televisions. Even those menus, with food from Schwa alum Brian Fisher have a retro feel. Check out those pun-fulled menus out below.
Get those permission slips signed and get ready to take a trip through nostalgia by looking at the photos below. Saved By The Max's dinner reservations are sold out, but late-night and brunch service are for strictly walk-ins. The pop-up lasts through August.
Saved By The Max, 1941 W. North Ave., open 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily for dinner; late-night service lasts from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday through Friday, until 2 a.m. on Saturday; weekend brunch lasts from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.