Saved by the Max
Saved by the Max, a "Saved by the Bell"-themed restaurant based on the classic Max diner from the beloved 90s teen sitcom!
ORIGINAL CHICAGO ADDRESS
1941 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
CURRENT LOS ANGELES ADDRESS
7100 Santa Monica Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA
STORY & PHOTOS
I visited Saved by the Max on a September 2016 visit to Chicago, but I didn't realize until the creators were about to open their new Los Angeles location that I never wrote about the original! So here it is, my experience at a supremely "Saved by the Bell"-themed restaurant. (And, yes, I was a total dork and wore a "Saved by the Bell" t-shirt.) This is the DEFINITION of living the movies (TV) - you feel like you're really stepping into the Bayside world!
Aaron and I took a whirlwind trip to Chicago to attend a Northwestern University football game (Aaron's an alum and he and his friends are all still obsessed with NU sports - go 'Cats!) and I demanded to visit Saved by the Max, the "SBTB" restaurant I'd read about online and had been dying to go to - only problem? I live in Maine. So I was thrilled that I'd be in town while the pop-up spot was still open. We flew in to Chicago early in the morning and literally took an Uber to the restaurant (luckily since it was a short trip we had small carry-on luggage - but we legit took it into the restaurant with us). We hopped in the line, which was important because they only took dinner reservations - brunch was first-come, first-served, and when they ran out of food they stopped serving.
So, yeah, we waited in line for a little bit, which was fine (Aaron only whined a little) and then we got ushered into the Max and I heard angels singing because this place was PER-FECT. They got the details SO RIGHT. When we first walked in there was a bank of lockers, with memorabilia from the characters inside. I am a big Slater fan (1% of the Zack-vs-Slater spectrum, I know) so I had to rep good ole Albert Clifford. (Mario Lopez did too!)
Then you get into the actual restaurant and it looks so much like the Max, down to the door and windows and the jukebox (Zack and Kelly's song, A-12, is playing - duh) and the pay phone. The booths were perfect, and we were seated in one front and center (basically the one the Bayside gang would've been in on the show!). There are photo ops galore all over the place, and you should definitely take advantage of them. (I did.)
The servers are cool with you wandering away from your table to pose and snap photos - but don't stay away from your table forever, because the food is really good too! And they have fancy drinks with fun names, too.
The Chicago Saved by the Max ended its run in May of 2017, but the creators are opening a new location in West Hollywood, CA soon. (They've been hiding reservations around Los Angeles with hints on their Instagram!) If you're in the area (or plan to be) I highly recommend swinging by and having a brunch or dinner deserving of a 90s Saturday morning! You won't regret it. The Chicago spot got pop-ins from "SBTB" alums including Ed Alonzo (Max), Dennis Haskins (Mr. Belding) and even A.C. Slater himself, Mario Lopez! With the new location in West Hollywood it's even more likely that some familiar Bayside faces will show up for brunch, lunch, or dinner. My fingers are crossed for you. (And if I get a chance, I'll pop in too.)
As a side note, when I was a sophomore in college, Dennis Haskins (aka Mr. Belding) came to my college and I took a photo with him. Here it is for posterity:
He was losing his voice because he'd been out partying with Charles Barkley the night before, which seemed so weird to me then and still does now. And never EVER forget: