17 May Back to the 90’s: Saved By The Max in Chicago
OK, I have a confession to make—I’ve mentioned it briefly before, but I have a mild…well, I guess some may call it a full-blown obsession with the 90’s TV Show, Saved By The Bell. I literally watched it every day after school for years (at both 3:05 p.m. and 3:35 p.m.—what was that all about TBS?), I had a Saved By The Bell board game, and as an adult, I may even still watch it on Hulu. Yeah, I suppose that could be classified as a full-blown obsession.
So, when I found that there was going to be a Saved By The Bell pop-up themed restaurant in Chicago, just a mere 6 hours away from our home, I just had to go. The restaurant, Saved By The Max, was built to resemble the crew’s hang out spot, “The Max”, and at first it was supposed to be open for only a month. That month was June 2016, but after so much success and booking to capacity every night, the date was extended to August and then again to December. I tried and tried and tried to find dates that worked in our schedule and also when there were reservations available, but I came away unsuccessful. There wasn’t one day in an entire 7-month timeframe that would work, and just as I was about to give up hope last winter, they announced the restaurant would stay open through May 2017, for one final semester! I pulled out our calendar one more time and was able to secure dates and reservations for the beginning of May, and I couldn’t have been more excited. I may have been so ecstatic that I couldn’t resist singing “I’m so excited, I’m so excited” like none other than Jessie Spano…which may have led Micah to finish it off by replying…”I’m so scared!”, ha!
Growing up, Micah always enjoyed the show, too, but his level of fandom doesn’t quite compare to mine. He was game for going with me, but he certainly had to tease me about traveling all the way to Chicago just to see it.
After waiting a long five months from when I made our reservation, May finally came. We road tripped to Chicago and based ourselves in the Wicker Park neighborhood—I had been wanting to check this area out and it happened to be where the restaurant was located, so it was a win-win. Our reservation was at 7:30 p.m., and we arrived to find the outside of the building marked with a simple neon sign, “The Max”.
Upon stepping inside, we found a set of lockers, a giant Bayside Tigers logo, and a wall painted with phrases and icons from the show.
Then, we turned the corner, and entered what basically looked like such a perfect replica of the Saved By The Bell set. It was everything I could have hoped it would be—the attention to detail was amazing and I couldn’t stop geeking out for basically our entire visit.
We sat down at our table and marveled at the design of our surroundings, so much so that I had a hard time focusing on the menu. Eventually we ordered our gigantic three course meal—we weren’t all that hungry to begin with, but the meal is prepaid and each reservation comes with an appetizer, entrée and dessert. All of the menu items have cute themed names and we decided on the Mac & Screech (mac and cheese) and Snow White and the Seven Dorks (chicken wings) for our appetizer. For our main entrees, I ordered The Kelly Kapowski (monte cristo sandwich) with a side of roasted cauliflower and Micah picked the Bayside Burger (a burger!) with fries. Then to top it all off, we still had to pick a dessert. Our waiter recommended the Max’s Magical Sweet Tooth (blueberry muffin ice cream with all sorts of toppings) and the Snack Attack (Twinkie ice cream loaded with toppings), so we went with his suggestion and prepared to eat way too much! Themed restaurants aren’t typically places you visit for the food, but I was pleasantly surprised with everything we ordered. We didn’t even come close to eating it all, but we really enjoyed our meal and left feeling more than satisfied.
While we waited for our food, we took some time to explore the restaurant. We took photos by the door and payphone, laughed that Zack and Kelly’s song, A-12, was showing on the jukebox and sang along to all the songs playing on the loudspeaker. We checked out the additional seating areas that were home to Mr. Belding’s office and Miss Bliss’ classroom. Even the bathrooms included elements of the show with high school posters and photos of the cast.
After we finished our meals, we had one more spot to check out: the lockers. There are a row of lockers by the entrance and two of them were open the night of our visit. Zack and Jessie’s lockers were filled with photos and fun little props—my favorite was Zack’s giant cell phone!
The entire evening was a giant walk down memory lane and I had so much fun getting a taste of hanging out with my favorite crew. And, believe it or not, Micah actually said he had a ton of fun, too! If you are a diehard fan of Saved By The Bell, Saved By The Max is a must. The Chicago location is open until the end of May 2017, but supposedly, the show is hitting the road and the owners might just be bringing the restaurant to a new location soon, so stay tuned. In the meantime, here’s a video from our trip back to the 90’s!
Do you have a favorite show from your childhood that you’d like to see recreated?