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Photos: Take A First Look Inside Wicker Park's 'Saved By The Bell' Pop-up

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on May 31, 2016 4:25PM

What started as one fan's tribute to Saved By the Bell has turned into an installation that far exceeded everyone's expectations. We were given a tour of the pop-up tribute to the television series, Saved By The Max, on Saturday and were astounded at the space's attention to detail.

The man behind the concept, Derek Berry, took us on a tour and caught us up on the pup-up's evolution. What began as an idea with no connection to the original show is now an event with the blessing of NBC Universal. After hearing news of Saved By The Max, NBC reps contacted Berry and, instead of trying to block the idea, offered their expertise to ensure the build-out did the show justice.

Berry told Chicagoist that NBC wanted to help him pull it off correctly. He was "building on screenshots," but NBC wanted to connect him with the people who actually built the sets. Obviously, Berry and his crew accepted the help.

As you can see from the photos, this is not simply a nod to the show's famous diner, it's a successful attempt to replicate it. Everything from the iconic door and railing are faithfully represented.

"This was a very expensive build up. But it's totally worth it," he said. "We could have saved ourselves some money, but we went all the way. And the final part was bringing on the chef (ex-Schwa chef Brian Fisher)."

The A.C. Sliders are terrific, Berry said: "I felt bad—we had our employee tasting the other night and I was walking around tables saying 'one for you, one for me...'"

In addition, Berry and his crew worked to expand on the original space from the show, and have added a dining nook carrying the theme of Mr. Belding, lockers (including Kelly Kapowski's) and KKTY 98.6 DJ booth—a space that functions as a semi-private dining area during dinner hours and turns into a late night DJ booth.

When pressed about the late night plans over the next few months Berry offered a few clues, including the addition of Jeremy Scheuch as the host of the Wednesday night TV-Oke, which will be a chance for people to get in costume and reenact their favorite scenes from the series.

Berry also told us future Monday night Q&As will include both writers and actors from the show, dishing on behind the scenes activity and answering burning questions from the audience.

Saved By The Max opens Wednesday night. Dinner reservations are just about sold out for the three month run of the pop-up, but walk-ins for both brunch and late night are wide open.