A Visit to Chicago’s ‘Golden Girls’ Drag Brunch

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A drag queen performs in the middle of a restaurant. Kim Kovacik/Eater Chicago

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Golden Girls Kitchen brings cheesecake, cocktails, and campy fun on the weekends

The television-viewing public is likely in for a bumpy ride over the coming months as simultaneous labor strikes bring Hollywood to a screeching halt for the first time in 63 years. As the picket lines grow and studios scramble, it seems an opportune time to settle in for a cozy rewatch of a favorite series from yesteryear — perhaps, say, Golden Girls, which ended its seven-season run on NBC in 1992.

Two framed photographs of Betty White and Rue McClanahan from “Golden Girls” on a pink restaurant wall.
Stay golden, girls.

Fortunately for fans of (mostly) grey-haired girl gang Dorothy, Rose, Blanche, and Sophia, the trip down memory lane isn’t limited to two dimensions due to the efforts of Bucketlisters (also behind a timely Malibu Barbie pop-up in West Loop), which has transformed sister spots Cheesie’s Pub & Grub and Whiskey Business into an elaborate and fully licensed Golden Girls Kitchen pop-up at 1367 N. Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park.

Chicagoans have streamed into the rendition of the Girls’ Miami ranch house since May, traversing its iconic kitchen, Blanche’s bedroom, and fictional bar the Rusty Anchor while dining on cheesecake, lasagna, and Cubano sandwiches. On weekends, a cast of Chicago drag performers including Chanel Mercedez Benz, Vanda La Rose, Essence, and Georgia St. Pierre don coiffed silver wigs and take the stage as the famous friends in a nod to the show’s significant LGBTQ fanbase.

Nearly four decades after it first hit screens, Golden Girls — a then-radical depiction of chosen family, candid sexuality, and frankly the mere existence of women over 50 on television — continues to comfort longtime fans and lure new adherents into the fold. Chicago’s tribute to the show will last through Thursday, August 10.

Explore the scene at Golden Girls Kitchen in the photographs below. Tickets are available via Bucketlisters.

A drag queen dressed as a “Golden Girl” performs for a crowd inside a restaurant.
Golden Girls fans are beating a path to Wicker Park.

A drag performer dressed as a “Golden Girl” holds a fistful of dollar bills in front of a crowd.
Tips are a great way to say “thank you for being a friend.”

A group of four drag performers dressed as the “Golden Girls” pose on a replica of the TV show set.
Georgia St. Pierre (far left), Chanel Mercedes Benz, Essence, and Vanda La Rose.

Cheesie’s Pub & Grub

958 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL 60657 (773) 388-1574 Visit Website

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