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Drag events have become a hot-button topic in some parts of the U.S., but in the 90210, a series of drag brunches at the Golden Girls Kitchen, a tribute to the classic NBC sitcom, are simply a hot ticket.
The pop-up — an officially licensed shindig at 369 N. Bedford Drive presented by events and experiences firm Bucket Listers (in partnership with rights holder Disney) — has six brunches on the calendar through the end of October, four already sold out.
“The drag brunches were fastest to sell out,” explained Bucket Listers founder and CEO Andy Lederman. The show’s four characters — Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia — will be re-created by drag queens who are expected to lip-sync the show’s theme song, “Thank You for Being a Friend.”
Bucket Listers — a company that partners with event producers, movie studios and other IP holders to create and scale unique experiences in cities like L.A., New York, Chicago, Miami, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Austin, Boston and more — planned the experience as an “immersive homage” to the classic Susan Harris-created sitcom that ran for seven seasons, from 1985-1992.
It starred Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty as Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia, respectively. The quartet is represented in the space by menu items, framed photographs and even by “Blanche’s bedroom,” a recreation of her space that is sure to be a popular photo backdrop.
He added that such events align well not only with the Golden Girls audience but with the themes and issues tackled on the show. “We knew when we decided to open that this was something that would be met with a lot of excitement but what we didn’t realize is how important the show was to so many people,” Lederman said. “A lot of fans reached out and said that the show was the first time they felt seen, or they praised it for how it touched on so many controversial topics. We’re incredibly proud to make this a very inclusive restaurant and we think it’s the perfect moment in time to invite everyone out for a great experience.”
The restaurant, led by executive chef Royce Burke of Dino’s Famous Chicken and the pop-up Secret Lasagna, is open Wednesday through Sunday and is described as fast-casual with an emphasis on desserts. For each ticket purchased (prices start at $39 with a total of 75 seats available), guests get a reserved seat, a window of 90 minutes to dine, choice of an entree and a piece of cheesecake (chocolate, strawberry, pumpkin or Oreo). Menu items include Sophia’s Lasagna Al Forno (meat or vegan), the Lanai: A Miami-style Cuban Sandwich, Blanche’s Georgia Style Cookie, Bacon Lettuce Potato Sandwich and more.
Additional items and local delivery are available for a la carte purchase while special items including custom cocktails will be rolled out at a later date. The Beverly Hills location, in a space once occupied by restaurant Bedford & Burns, also features merch for sale from aprons to coffee mugs. It is the first to open doors with additional Golden Girls Kitchens planned for New York, Miami, San Francisco and Chicago.
Lederman is quick to credit both Burke and Derek Berry, Bucket Listers director of experiences who previously steered pop-ups Saved by the Max, Good Burger and The Peach Pit. “We didn’t want to make this a gimmicky thing,” Lederman said of the offerings. “We wanted real, incredible food and we paid very close attention to the details — everything from the playlist to the knick knacks you see everywhere. That’s all thanks to Derek Berry, who has an amazing track record of doing this in a very authentic way. It really makes you feel like you’re in the show.”
Amid a pandemic during which countless viewers said they returned to comforting content and beloved shows like Golden Girls, Lederman said now is the perfect time to launch the kitchen experience, especially on the heels of the passing of Betty White in December. “It was incredibly important to Disney that we did something sooner rather than later. This is a show that has stood the test of time and it’s really one of the few timeless classics,” Lederman said of the show, now streaming on Disney-owned Hulu. “With everything going on in our country right now to Betty White’s recent passing, we felt it was the perfect time not only to bring this to L.A. but to other cities later this year.”
This story first appeared in the Aug. 3 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media