The team that created Saved by the Max was meticulous when they designed their tribute to ‘90s sit-com Saved by the Bell; they used YouTube clips for the TV show and studied angles to ensure the Wicker Park pop-up looked like the Hollywood set. Now they’ve set to open Dorian’s, permanent restaurant/bar in the same space that’s inspired by the dark and moody jazz clubs from the ‘60s. Dorian’s isn’t competing with venues like Green Mill, the famous Uptown jazz club. But it takes certain cues in aiming to be an off-beat spot that sticks out in the neighborhood.
The mini record store with listening stations should show customers how much music means to the owners. Diners enter through the vinyl store — stocked with jazz, rock, boogie, and more — on their ways to the dining room and bar. DJs and bands will perform throughout the night, and there’s a stage to the left of the bar where Principal Belding’s office stood at the Max. Ticketed performances may be something ownership pursues in the future.
Jazz is an expansive genre, and programming director Joe Bryl doesn’t want to be pigeonholed while selecting the music for the restaurant. They’ve installed an Italian sound system called EPA into the space. Bryl, who worked at shuttered West Town club Sontheque — which has morphed into Beauty Bar (where co-owner Derek Berry worked) — was known for it sound and Bryl wants to ensure Dorian’s gets the same attention. They doesn’t mean music will drown out conversation. Co-owner Zack Eastman envisions a restaurant and bar where friends can catch up in person without the need of social media.
Chef Brian Fisher created an Asian-inspired menu (see below) with small plates like short rib banh mi and mushroom wontons. Michelin announced on Wednesday that Fisher’s Lakeview restaurant retained its star. They’ll also serve charcuterie and caviar.
Beverage Director John Hess has brought tricks learned at fancy Fulton Market cocktail bar Aviary to Wicker Park. There’s a Canadian-inspired cocktail (“Sorrey, Eh?”) with rye whisky, maple, prickly pear and birch bitters. A $70 large-format bourbon cocktail, “Cookie Monster,” is mixed with coconut, amaretto, and bitters.
Along with the third co-owner, Steve Harris (Debonair Social Club), Berry, and Eastman could aim to form a hospitality group. Eastman hinted that there are efforts for more pop-ups at other venues, but they wanted a permanent restaurant in the space. Take a tour and read the menus. Dorian’s opens on Friday at 1939 W. North Avenue.