clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

‘Stranger Things’ Pop-Up to Close Oct. 1 as Netflix Lawyers Slay Idea

IP is a realm trickier to navigate than The Upside Down

The Upside Down
Marc Much
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

The Chicago organizers of the Stranger Things bar pop-up never secured permission from Netflix before opening their homage to the 80s-inspired TV show, and now they’ll have to close. The team behind The Upside Down said in August they planned on closing at the end of September, but left room to extend the run. Now they won’t have a choice as Netflix’s legal team has sent the pop-up’s owners a letter asking them to shut down operations. The pop-up will now shutter on Oct. 1 in Logan Square.

The busy pop-up routinely sees long lines of fandom waiting to get inside and see TV-studio set quality props and sip cocktails inspired by the show. But there’s no licensing deal in place, and lawyers aren’t happy. Netflix shared their letter with DNAinfo, and it’s free of the typical lawyer jargon associated with these types of exchanges. Instead, the letter takes more of complimentary tone, praising the pop-up. It’s more of a PR piece, complete with references to the show.

“My walkie-talkie is busted, so I had to write this note instead,” wrote Bryce Coughlin, a lawyer and director of brand and content — intellecutal property for Netflix.

The letter (nicely) demanded Emporium Arcade Bar’s Danny and Doug Marks (Emporium runs the space) to end the pop-up on Oct. 1 and to ask for Netflix’s permission next time they try something similar.

“We love our fans more than anything, but you should know that the demogorgon is not always as forgiving. So please don’t make us call your mom,” the letter read.

The letter provides a little bit of free publicity for the pop-up, as The Upside Down management plans to humor Netflix’s demands, though they hoped to extend it through October when the TV show’s next season premieres. They’ll host the first of their two all-ages open houses tonight. Emporium’s Jared Saul plans a huge dance party for the final weekend with DJ Heaven Malone.

IP is a tricky realm to navigate. Over in Wicker Park, the team behind Saved By The Max, the Saved By The Bell pop-up that lasted a year before moving to LA, may have created the most-succesful blueprint for this scenario. The team reached out to NBC and established a working relationship. The network helped bring stars from the 90s TV show to Chicago for appearances at the restaurant.

“Building an experience around someone else’s intellectual property is a complicated and exciting project to undertake,” wrote Zack Eastman, one of The Max’s co-owners. “We’ve found it to be imperative to work with the IP holder on experiences we build as they are the owner, but also become true creative partners in building something incredibly special for the fans.”

Meanwhile, unless Netflix reconsiders, The Upside Down’s days are officially numbered. Fanboys and fangirls have until Oct. 1 to ride their bikes over before the pop-up ends.

Emporium Arcade Bar

2363 North Milwaukee Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 697-7922 Visit Website

Saved by the Max

1941 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (773) 687-9824 Visit Website