B.J. Novak (From ‘The Office’) Created the Most Nostalgic Chain Restaurant Ever
B.J. Novak, best known as the pretty boy slacker Ryan from The Office, first shared the idea for a chain-themed restaurant in 2018. Now, it has become a reality as a pop-up restaurant in Los Angeles with the hopes of one day expanding. Along with Novak, chef Tim Hollingsworth owns the pop-up restaurant and is in charge of its rotating menu. The entire philosophy of the restaurant banks on the nostalgia of chain restaurants including Chili’s and TGI Fridays.
It isn’t just the atmosphere of the restaurant that is nostalgic but the food plays on elevated versions of your favorites such as Outback Steakhouse’s bloomin’ onion. The recipes are released one meal at a time and according to their website, the most current drop is a “Stabby Meal,” likely a play on McDonald’s Happy Meals in honor of the newest Scream film coming out soon. Thrillist explains that the Stabby Meal comes with “the Extremely Medium Sized Bone Marrow ChainBurger comes as a half-pound bone marrow beef patty topped with American cheese, pickles, onions, ketchup, mustard, and Chain’s umami seasoning blend all on a poppy seed bun. The Throwback Fries are simple, classic fries done right. And then Woodsboro Orchards Warm Apple Pie is, of course, a take on McDonald’s Baked Apple Pie, a hand-held cylinder of hot apples and cinnamon.” Scream VI pins are available inside as the prize.
Chain banks on the nostalgic vibe and menu of old chain restaurants
Chain doesn’t have a traditional menu, just the night’s chosen meal, and no modifications are allowed as every night it opens books up quickly. Which might lead you to wonder how you actually get in. All you have to do is send a text to 323-310-4642 or enter your phone number on their website but it won’t guarantee that you get a spot. Fans should follow on social media to learn about any updates too that might help them get a spot at one of these highly-coveted tables. For the entry and meal, it costs around $65.
View this post on Instagram
As of now, Chain looks pretty unassuming as it is currently located in an actual home. The co-founders explained that when thinking of nostalgic chain restaurants, the feeling was always there about making you feel at home. Film producer Nicholas Kraft, who helped conceptualize the pop-up, said, “It seems counterintuitive if you’re going to do a chain restaurant, but so much of what chains are about is this neighborhood feeling. I mean, literally, Applebee’s [motto] is ‘Eating good in the neighborhood.’ Olive Garden is ‘When you’re here, you’re family.’ A house kind of made sense.” The atmosphere inside also plays on nostalgic chain restaurants and includes things like a KFC fried-chicken-scented fire log, a Ronald McDonald, and other vintage restaurant tchotchkes.
Chef Hollingsworth added that he wants people to reminisce as they are eating his meals, thinking that it tastes just like their favorites but better. He explained, “What we’re really trying to highlight is just an appreciation for what [these restaurants] do. The biggest thing for me right now is, when you taste the food, I want you to think of the restaurant in that nostalgic way, like, ‘This is what I remember’ … To me, the success is taking a bite and being like, ‘Wow, takes me back to Taco Bell.’” If you’re lucky enough to get in… bring me?