‘Golden Girls’ LA pop-up restaurant has the golden touch
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Picture it: A vacant Beverly Hills bistro has been transformed into the set of a 1980s sitcom about four women living in Miami — but it’s also a working restaurant.
Reservations have been going fast at the newly opened The Golden Girls Kitchen. Some patrons have come from out of state to see the pop-up eatery.
Joe Saunders, of Cranston, Rhode Island, his two teenage children and their mother were visiting Northern California when they learned about the pop-up. So they made a special trip south just to see it.
“I was a little hesitant about coming but my kids’ mom really wanted to come,” said Saunders, who was wearing a T-shirt referencing the sitcom’s fictitious Shady Pines retirement home. “It’s been a good time… the lasagna, the strawberry daiquiri and I’m going to have a piece of cake with ice cream, too.”
Thirty years after “The Golden Girls” ended on NBC, fans still can’t let go of the sitcom about four housemates — Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia — bonding over aging, dating and cheesecake. The first month of reservations sold out before the pop-up opened July 30, which the internet deems National Golden Girls Day. It’s just the latest example of the comedy rising to pop culture relevancy again. In just the past few months, the first ever Golden-Con fan convention was held in Chicago and a pilot for an animated, futuristic “Golden Girls” series is being shopped around.
Bucket Listers, an online events company, organized the pop-up. It had the blessing of Disney, which owns the rights to “Golden Girls.” So, organizers were free to put Easter Egg references in the decor and the menu. Upon walking in, fans are immediately greeted by a bartender at the Shady Pines bar. Further inside is a replica of the women’s kitchen counter, complete with a yellow wall phone. Behind the dining room is a recreation of Blanche’s bedroom, including the iconic banana leaf bedspread and wallpaper.
“It has been so heartwarming to see my mom light up. I know that she’s watched the show at least 50 times each season,” said A.J. Maloney, 23, who came from San Diego with her mother, Shellee, 45.
Derek Berry, Bucket Listers’ director of experiences, has plenty of experience staging pop-ups. Since 2016, he has overseen half-a-dozen restaurant tributes starting with a “Saved By the Bell” diner in Chicago. “Breaking Bad,” “Beverly Hills 90210” and “Good Burger” have also inspired fast-casual diners. Berry’s criteria for the pop-up treatment is if a show has “staying power” and people are constantly quoting it. “Golden Girls” was inevitable.
“Every time we announce a pop-up, we look at the comments. People are like ‘I love it, but you should have done this!’ And it’s always ‘Golden Girls,'” said Berry, who worked with a 45-member team.