Pop culture pop-up restaurants were popular until the pandemic stripped nostalgic fans of the chance to spend copious amounts of time eating in dining rooms and remembering their favorite TV shows, movies, or video games. And pop-ups, like the entire restaurant industry, are shifting to carryout. The team behind the Saved by the Bell restaurant that ignited the trend when it debuted 2016 in Chicago’s Wicker Park will debut a takeout and delivery pop-up next week. A to-go version of Saved by the Max will return to three cities: Chicago, LA, and — for the first time — New York.
Preorders kickoff on Friday, August 14 and the pop-up runs from August 20 to August 25. Derek Berry, the former Chicago DJ who played at venues like Beauty Bar in West Town, is one of Saved by the Max’s founders. He moved to California to bring the Max to Los Angeles. He’s since mined other pop-culture properties like Breaking Bad, Good Burger, and Beverly Hills, 90210.
Since the pandemic, Berry’s scrambled to figure out a new business plan that would keep customers and workers safe. A few pop-up plans with high-profile licenses fell through, but he’s since enjoyed success with filmmaker Kevin Smith (Clerks, Mallrats, Dogma). They launched a Mooby’s pop-up, based on a fictional fast-food restaurant that appears in Smith’s View Askew universe. In LA, customers can book times to pick up their food and browse through the restaurant (while masked and with social distancing), which features plenty of decorations and selfie opportunities.
Buoyed by those positive vibes from that pandemic blueprint, Berry and company are going back to what started it all. Customers can order a combo meal (Bayside Preppy Pack) with either burger (beef or Beyond Meat), “Home of the Tigers Tater Totz,” and a special “Class of 2020” gift. Other options include a “Friends Forever” side salad and “Kapowski Fries.” “Snack Attack” desserts include “Zack’s Sweet Talking Cookie Sandwich” and “Max’s Magical Gooey Brownies.” Fans of the ‘90s NBC sit-com will understand these references.
The pop-up is also embracing the general store pivot with “At Home Detention” kits. There’s the “DIY Screech’s Secret Spaghetti Sauce.” But the packaging for the “I’m So Excited Coffee Experience” will make for a very special meal. The photos show it coming out of a medicine vial, which is based on the landmark episode where Jessie Spano copes with caffeine pill addiction. There’s also booze: “Mr. Dewey’s Build It At Home Cocktail Kit” and the “See Ya Slater” to-go cocktail pouch.
The Max is also back in time for the Saved by the Bell reboot that should air later this year on NBC’s new streaming service, Peacock. Apparently, August 20 is National Saved by the Bell day. The synergy is strong, preppy.
Saved by the Max pop-up; preorders start noon on Friday, August 14; pickup and delivery from August 20 to August 25; ordering via Tock; pickup is at Dorian’s, 1941 W. North Avenue; the original Saved by the Max space.