To say that I was HYPED for LA’s Saved by the Bell-themed pop-up diner would be an understatement. I’m talking Jessie Spano on caffeine pills excited!
If you grew up in the 90’s, chances are pretty good that your guilty pleasure watching included Saved by the Bell on Saturday mornings. And for the truly obsessed, you probably watched its re-runs on a regular basis with equal excitement!
The 90’s-nostalgia factor is in full force at Saved by the Max, a pop-up diner located in West Hollywood (at 7100 Santa Monica in the Gateway Shopping Center). It’s been open since last May, but Kevin and I finally got the chance to check it out this past weekend. The experience follows a sold out run in Chicago and remains a hot ticket in LA.
The diner meticulously recreates the famous after school hangout for all those cool kids from Bayside High (and yes, even the nerds like Screech). No details are overlooked — in fact, we found out that they regularly re-paint the interior to keep it looking as fresh as possible. The experience also follows a strict licensing protocol from the brass at NBC Universal, who still call the shots on anything related to the show. But all this attention to detail translates into a pretty authentic experience (even down to the jukebox blasting TLC’s Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls!).
There are 3 main dining options here — the actual diner (where we sat for the full experience), Mr. Belding’s office (which is good for large groups) and the full-service bar (for walk-ins without prior reservations)
The place is full of plenty of Instagram-friendly spots — firetruck red lockers, old-school arcade games and a full-sized jukebox. But the cherry on the top? Be sure to rummage through the lockers to find the ever-so-90’s, brick-sized cell phone. And get ready to channel your inner Zack Morris!
Advanced reservations are recommended. However, we got an inside tip that they accept walk-ins at the bar. Meaning: you’ll save some mega dough! A la carte entrees at the bar run about $15 each — and drinks are even less. This is a much cheaper option in case you don’t feel like paying $40 per person. Plus, you still get to experience the diner, which is the coolest room in the pop-up.
According to staffers, Saved by the Max will be in Los Angeles until October 2019. After that, they’re hoping to ride the nostalgia wave into Las Vegas with a full-time experience. Given how popular it is in Los Angeles, I think they have a good shot at hitting the jackpot in Vegas!
Entry is $40 per person and includes an appetizer and entree. The food is your typical diner fare — think hamburgers, chicken wings and fried chicken. I went in with low expectations on the food, but was pleasantly surprised by how tasty it was. While I ordered the wings, my husband seemed to enjoy them the most (sneaking in about three-quarters of my order when I wasn’t looking!).
I’m not so big on greasy diner food, so I balanced out the wings with the “Big Bopper Salad” topped with blue cheese crumbles, fruit and creamy poppy seed dressing. I was impressed!
Be sure to check out their website to make reservations as well as to learn more about specially-themed nights, including guest appearances and DJs. And who knows, maybe you’ll run into Mario Lopez or Elizabeth Berkley? You’re in Hollywood after all. You never know!