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Thank You For Being A Pop-Up — ‘Golden Girls’ Kitchen Comes To LA

A neon sign reads "thank you for being a friend," surrounded by roses. In the background are several small tables.
Traveled down a road and back again (to the Golden Girls Kitchen pop-up).
(Noel Alva
/
Courtesy Golden Girls Kitchen )
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The Miami locales of The Golden Girls are headed to Los Angeles for a new restaurant pop-up.

Opening this weekend in Beverly Hills, the Golden Girls Kitchen is a 90-minute timed experience that comes with food and plenty of photo opportunities.

Sights you’ll see include:

  • A version of the Golden Girls kitchen itself
  • Blanche’s bedroom and its banana leaf patterns
  • Elements from the Shady Pines retirement home (before it burned down and sent Sophia to live with daughter Dorothy and her friends).
A bed whose bedspread and pillows are covered with a large palm frond design, as are the walls. There are also plants in the corners, two bedside tables with lamps, a touchtone phone, and pink carpeting. There is also some pink on the walls in the corners.
Blanche's boudoir. Oh my.
(Noel Alva
/
Courtesy Golden Girls Kitchen )
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“I think we’re hitting all five senses for the Golden Girls fans here,” event creator Derek Berry said. “You can eat it, the playlist is hand-curated, there’s Instagrammable moments.”

Berry created the Golden Girls Kitchen for the events company Bucket Listers after previously creating pop culture pop-ups like Saved by the Max, Good Burger, and The Peach Pit.

You’re greeted at the entrance for the Golden Girls Kitchen with a neon sign representing the show’s iconic theme song, reading “Thank You For Being A Friend.”

“Right off the bat, you go, 'OK, I’ve arrived,’” Berry said.

Making A TV Show Menu

A sign on the counter reads "CHEESECAKE FIXERS EVERYTHING." It is surrounded by shelves, small plants, and empty upside-down wine glasses.
Noel Alva
(Courtesy Golden Girls Kitchen)

The signature dishes you can expect include Sophia’s famed lasagna, as well as cheesecakes from East Side Cheesecakes for dessert.

The menu was created with chef Royce Burke, who’s also associated with Dino’s Famous Chicken and Secret Lasagna.

“He’s like the king of lasagna,” Berry said.

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They dove deep into Golden Girls lore to create their recipes.

“Some of the menu, we had to get very creative with. There’s certain things you never hear recipes for. But they said, ‘This tastes like,’ or ‘It smells like,’ so we try to take those things and put recipes together with them,” Berry said.

We don’t want people to go, 'Yeah, it looked great in there, but my gosh, that was like a one-dollar burger.
— Derek Berry

Berry said that they wanted to avoid ending up with an experience that’s all fun photo ops but disappointing food.

“We don’t want people to go, 'Yeah, it looked great in there, but my gosh, that was like a one-dollar burger,” Berry said. “I couldn’t do it to myself. I couldn’t invite friends to come in, and then they suffer through one of the worst meals they’ve had because we put all of our money into the moments and not the food.”

Berry acknowledged that the event comes with a “premium price,” costing around $45. He said that they wanted to make sure it delivered on its promise, particularly while people are dealing with inflation and high gas prices, because mediocre food can make people forget all of the cool theming.

A line of brown seats in front of a bar, with additional green upholstery. A sign reads "SHADY PINES, MIAMI, FLORIDA" with a logo of three pine trees near one another. Shelves covered with plants are in the background, as well as a large television hanging on the wall.
Belly up to the bar to play your part in the retirement center Sophia was at, before it burned down.
(Courtesy Golden Girls Kitchen)

There are also themed seating areas, including one designed to look like the outdoor lanai from the show, as well as a Shady Pines retirement bar. That’s meant to ensure that no matter where people sit, they don’t feel like they’re missing out.

“We didn’t want people to feel punished sitting [at the bar],” Berry said.

Creating A Food Pop-Up During COVID-19

A grouping of tables with pink tablecloths, both small and slightly larger, near the kitchen. There are maroon cabinets with dishes hung in a line above them.
The restaurant's main dining area is near the famed Golden Girls kitchen itself.
(Noel Alva
/
Courtesy Golden Girls Kitchen )

Berry’s back after his previous endeavor shuttered despite its success with pop-ups like Saved By the Max.

“That company went under because of COVID,” Berry said. “We essentially couldn’t do anything, because there’s no picking up a cell phone [as with Zack Morris’s at Saved By The Max], and putting it to ear, and passing it to your neighbor anymore.”

He said the pandemic taught him to be more creative. He worked with writer/director Kevin Smith on a pop-up of the Mooby’s restaurant from his films, and they did it during the peak of the pandemic. Just like that one, the Golden Girls Kitchen experience isn’t about having a hands-on experience with physical props that other customers have touched, thanks to increased concern about spreading germs.

As people feel more comfortable going out to eat, he’s back at it again. They also sanitize the social media photo spots to keep everything as safe as possible, according to Berry.

He said that he was glad that they weren’t having to use plexiglass anymore and that there was more genuine connection.

“We want people to be comfortable. So, whatever they’re feeling, we’re embracing,” Berry said.

Berry noted that Beverly Hills has its own set of COVID-19 rules — city officials recently announced that they won’t enforce an indoor mask mandate if Los Angeles County decides to bring one back.

“I get nervous for the future of events if things start to happen like that again,” Berry said, referring to the return of indoor masking. "I hope and pray that we can continue on as we have in the last few months."

Lessons Learned

Framed photos of the Golden Girls hang on the wall alongside a green staircase and a lamp with a green shade. Pictured are Dorothy, Blanche, Rose, and Sophia, both in a posed photo and in shots from a variety of episodes of the series.
The Golden Girls will be watching over you as you visit their kitchen.
(Noel Alva
/
Courtesy Goldne Girls Kitchen )

Digging deeper down the menu, Berry personally recommends their Cuban sandwich. He also noted that they have vegan versions of their dishes, including the lasagna — a step up from what you may expect.

“Typically in these settings, the vegan thing is either like, ‘Hey, here’s a lettuce-wrapped burger,’ or ‘Here’s a salad,’” he said.

One lesson Berry took from previous pop-ups: don’t put too much on the menu, and don’t let a clever kitschy name force you into serving something that doesn’t deserve to be on the menu.

At Saved By The Max, “We always tried to have so many items, that each character was having something named after them,” Berry said. “It was great for the customer experience, but truly speaking, the customer experience starts to hurt when you can’t put out the food as fast as you need, or the quality may, after a while, not be there.”

He added that, as much as he loved coming up with the name for the “A.C. Sliders,” that might not have been the best option for them to create. This time, they worked to create the menu first, then went back to name the items.

Thank You For Being A Friend — Again And Again

As a lot of visitors likely will, or already have upon hearing about the Golden Girls Kitchen, Berry’s had the theme song stuck in his head. A lot.

“It’s bad for me. Like, really bad,” Berry said. “I’ve only heard the song about a hundred times the last couple months. But it’s such a good song.”

It’s such a quintessential part of people’s memories of the show that the restaurant’s staff holds a sing-along every hour, with guests encouraged to join in.

Even Berry’s 3-year-old has joined in singing along with the song.

“So if tickets start bombing, I’m going to bring my daughter out to do some singing of that — win some people over,” Berry said.

Tickets for the Golden Girls Kitchen are currently available through October — and Berry said they’re selling well, so he expects they’ll be extending the experience through the end of the year.

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