New Svengoolie Burger enters the ring at Chicago’s “Squared Circle” Restaurant!

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This past Saturday was a day I both dreaded and anticipated with a flurry of events (none of which I wanted to miss) all converging at once. For starters, it was the weekend of G-FEST (Godzilla Festival) which I’ve attended faithfully with my kids since 2004. In fact, if you’re a Japanese monster fan, your entire calendar year pretty much revolves around it. Though it offers plenty of activities throughout the weekend, Saturday evenings are known for being the show’s climax with their highly anticipated costume contest.

The earlier portion of my day was spent covering an event hosted by my Brookfield Zoo AAZK (American Association of Zoo Keepers) Chapter and, after that, a Svengoolie appearance.

Now I know what many of you faithful readers must be thinking. “Seriously, Dave? Haven’t you been to enough Svengoolie appearances that you can afford to miss at least one?” Recently, someone  asked me exactly how many times I’ve gone to see our country’s only national TV horror host. I wasn’t able to answer the question at the time but, after spending a day racking my brain, thumbing through old photos, and scanning old Terror Dave blog posts, am now prepared to give a definitive answer…(drum roll please)…

If I show up this coming weekend for Sven’s appearance at Cook Brothers (as I’m planning on doing), it will mark the 35th time I’ve seen Rich Koz/Svengoolie at a public event! I’m not sure if that’s a Svengoolie fan record or not (it’s possible Ron and Angela Urban have me beat since they’ve been at it since his “Son of” days) but I’d venture to guess I’m securely in the Top Five at the very least. So, in regards to this busy weekend, it further begged the question of why I didn’t just opt out.

Well try putting yourself in my shoes? You’re a die-hard Svengoolie fan who discovers that he’s not only showing up at a great new Chicago restaurant owned by an attractive, pro female wrestler…but that they’ll also be debuting an official “Svengoolie Burger” (not a one day gimmick but a permanent menu feature). Then, topping things off, you discover that the host will not only be signing for two hours from 7-9pm but also staying on from 9-11pm so you can watch his Saturday night show right alongside him. Now, I ask you….how could someone like me, afford to miss something like THAT???

1“Svengoolie Burger” (4th from bottom) a permanent menu choice!

While I was excited about this appearance, I was also apprehensive regarding its logistics. The restaurant was designed for more intimate gatherings and the possibility of attracting a crowd too large to accommodate it was a very real one. Incidentally, had that been the case, I’d of snapped a few shots for the blog, ordered a Svengoolie burger “To Go,” and respectfully taken off. The fact that this occasion had been advertised in Chicago papers and that many of my fellow “Goolies”  stated they’d be showing up increased that possibility.

Earlier in the day I’d spoken with Sven’s assistant, Jim, and promised that we’d stage ourselves by the restaurant’s bar (which after a long day at the zoo merely provided me with an excuse) and not take up any valuable table space. This plan would end up working out even better than we could have imagined!

I left the zoo around 4:30 and met up with the aforementioned Ron and Angela (affectionately referred to as “Don and Bunny,” which I’ll explain some other time) as we car-pooled to The Squared Circle Restaurant in an attempt to save valuable parking space (and also prevent the directionally challenged “me” from ending up in Milwaukee). As experienced Svengoolie followers, we knew that arriving early to an event is key and were happy to see plenty of open FREE parking spaces.

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As we approached, we spied a terrific poster advertising the special night ahead of us. I told Bunny it was my goal to make one of those posters my own…but with permission of course.
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At this point (90 minutes early) there were plenty of empty tables but we explained to the nice guy who greeted us that we were planning on staying all night and wouldn’t mind sitting at the bar out of respect for the other patrons. He showed us some vacant seats at the bar which, miraculously, were right next to the table reserved for Svengoolie. Boy, I never thought being respectful could feel so good! Now, in between Sven greeting his fans, we could swing our chairs around and talk to him like supporting cast members of his horror host version of Cheers!
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1Table reserved for Svengoolie with three chairs at the bar for the Urbans and I
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1At the bar and happy even BEFORE having a drink!
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The Urbans were ready to eat and ordered some amazing looking nachos as well as pizza. They’d both later conclude that the nachos were awesome and that the pizza was one of the best they’d ever had. As we’re Chicagoans, dear readers, give that review some serious consideration. They couldn’t finish it all and generously allowed me to pick at their left-overs. I, however, was saving my appetite for The Svengoolie Burger and, believe me, it was something you needed to allow space for!
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IMG_9768Mouth watering Nachos!
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1Delicious Pizza!
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Surprisingly, we weren’t the first Svengoolie fans to arrive. On the other side of the bar was a small gathering of pals whose lone female gave them away by wearing a pair of rubber chicken earrings. We’d never seen them before and they explained that this was their first time meeting him.
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The bar was being run by an attractive blond who, after taking Don and Bunny’s order, told me she’d wait to order my Sven Burger so it would be ready in conjunction with its namesake’s arrival. In the interim, she also supplied me with some tasty vodka and pineapple juice cocktails. After downing the second one, Bunny noticed me staring…
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Bunny: Dave, this ain’t “Coyote Ugly.”
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Dave: Ugly never entered my mind.
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My attention, however, would soon be redirected when the restaurant’s enigmatic owner, wrestling sensation “Tara” Lisa  Marie Varon, entered the scene. Beautiful and vibrant, she’d light up the entire room while checking on the welfare of her happy guests. As she said “Hello” to us, she noticed my Svengoolie T-Shirt and grinned. “You’re here to see Sven! Awesome! Isn’t he the absolute BEST? I should put on my Sven shirt too!”
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(Stupid-ass me), “Yes, you should ASAP!”
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Tara ran into the back room and came out clad in her Sven shirt while brandishing an already signed studio rubber chicken. Prior to this, she’d been wearing a low-cut/form-fitting top with rhinestones. Needless to say, I don’t think Don appreciated my fashion input.
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1Tara from Beyond the Dave
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Now as many of you know, I’ve never been much of a fan of wrestling. However, during the course of this site, I’ve managed to meet quite a few pro wrestlers and they really are the nicest people! Lisa was not only nice but also gorgeous  – enough to make me consider an investment in Pay Per View.
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We chatted with her regarding our mutual love of Sven before she busily attended to other tasks. The beautiful bartender, who’d overheard mine and Lisa’s entire exchange, asked me what it’s like going to so many Svengoolie appearances while handing me my third drink.
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Dave (suggestively arching eyebrow): Every time is just like the first…
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Bunny: Keep this up, Dave, and you’ll be walking home!
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It was then I heard a loud, “Dave Fuentes!!!” from behind me. I turned around and saw Brian Bernardoni sitting at a table with his father. I’d met them not long ago while we were both visiting Acme Design  (creators of Svengoolie’s new coffin) and wasted no time introducing him to Don & Bunny.
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1With Brian Bernardoni
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Brian is one of the friendliest guys you could ever meet – a big Svengoolie fan with a heart to match. He’s also extremely talented and created an amazing replica of the original Sven coffin that’s part of a mock Svengoolie TV set he puts up for public viewing each Halloween (he promised the Urbans and I we’d be invited this year to see it). I’d asked “Daddy Goolie” to participate in the recent Scary Monsters Magazine tribute to Sven and he delighted me by writing a wonderful narrative along with sharing lots of photos. He’s been thanking me ever since but the pleasure was always mine and my fellow SM readers. Brian is also a Chicago politico who’s written for many mainstream periodicals so, needless to say, his Scary Monsters fervor is further evidence of the devotion we adult monster kids have towards Svengoolie.
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Next on the scene was Bill and Joan Yingst. Joan, by the way,  just made her Horrorhound Magazine debut (along with myself ) via a short piece I’d written on Svengoolie regarding his “induction” into the “Horror Host Hall of Fame.” As she (as well as Bunny) had also contributed to that aforementioned Svengoolie Scary Monsters issue, Brian had all of us sign his copy. I’d already had him sign my copy when I’d last seen him at Acme and it’s currently in New England awaiting signature from Sparky (a.k.a. the other, original Terror Dave).
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img_2739I wrote by this shot in the mag: “Brian, I see you’ve ‘caught’ Svengoolie Fever too!”
(clever, ain’t I?)
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We all posed together for a picture; asking a nice guy sitting nearby to take the photo. The man’s name was Elliott Serrano and he’d just written a nice piece on Sven in Chicago’s “Red Eye.” Getting back to my zoo interests, I moderate Brookfield AAZK’s Facebook page (please go “Like” it by clicking HERE) and joining Elliott was a woman named Marisa who does the same thing for Chicago’s other zoo – Lincoln Park’ AAZK (which you should also “Like” by clicking HERE). What were the chances?
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Marisa brought along another zoo keeper named Allycia and both were looking to promote their upcoming “Bowling for Rhinos” event which is taking place on August 15th What makes this stand out is the appearance of another pro wrestler (appropriately named “Rhino”) as well Svengoolie’s alter ego, Rich Koz! You don’t have to bowl to attend either festivities and can get information on this event via their FB page.
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1With Allycia & Marisa!
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With the restaurant full ( but thankfully manageable) the time of Svengoolie’s arrival was at hand!
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IMG_9785Svengoolie arrives!
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1Addressing the patrons with Lisa nearby
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While Sven settled in and began greeting his fans, my Svengoolie Burger arrived as promised! Now let me state up front, this is no ordinary hamburger. It’s actually a “stuffed” burger with the juicy ingredients wrapped inside a crisp, doughy shell. I’d brought along a small, rubber chicken for garnishment assuming that would give it some added flair! It’s definitely not a light meal (next year I’d like to suggest a skinless, low-fat Kerwyn Filet) but was delicious and absolutely worth holding out for!
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The length of time Svengoolie stayed provided more opportunities to hang out with him and take lots of pictures. I joined in one with the Lincoln Park Zoo folks which showed Sven moderating a rivalry/dispute between our two zoos. For the record, there is NO competition between AZA Accredited Zoos  in Chicago nor elsewhere as we are ALL working towards the same conservation goals.
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IMG_9833Might have been a more effective battle had I not been wearing an LPZ hat
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Brian also wanted a shot of all present  Svengoolie Scary Monsters authors together and, while I was chatting with Sven, yelled across the room in a hushed-like voice, “Hey, Dave! See if he’ll get a picture with us!” And who can say no to Brian Bernardoni?
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1Reading our Masterpiece to Joan, Sven, Angela, Brian, and Elizabeth!
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The movie choice was also ideal (Beginning of the End) which featured giant grasshoppers attacking our Sweet Home, Chicago (and incidentally, Sven does do a Blues Brothers parody during it). Because it was a full house, the place was getting a tad warm and I was concerned about Svengoolie getting over-heated. Like a dutiful Svengoolie fan (or kiss-ass depending on how you look at it), I held a small fan up in an attempt to help keep him cool. This later created an awkward moment when some guy came up to me and said it looked like I was trying to use some gal’s “personal device” on the host. Folks as much as I do love Svengoolie, even my fandom has its limits!
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2 TV Svengoolie also seems concerned about what I’m holding in this picture
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I have to say this event would make for the fastest four hours of my life as we all schmoozed and chatted with each other amid drinks…as if attending our very own Svengoolie VIP party!
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IMG_9827With the marvelous Elizabeth Haney
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9Incidentally,  “The Squared Circle” also offers amazing sandwiches!
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2Jim Roche and Lisa!
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3Sven, Lisa, and crew members from TV show “Hardcore Pawn: Chicago!”
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4Elliott shows off his signed Red-Eye article with  Marisa!
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14Sven and Elliott sign a laminated copy for me as well!
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8Svengoolie chats with Lisa
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12Lincoln Park Zoo Keepers terrified over giant grasshoppers invading Chicago!
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15Jim & Sven with Don & Bunny!
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Also featured during commercial breaks were special Svengoolie and Svengoolie/wrestling trivia questions! Folks who answered correctly were given special prizes such as posters, T-shirts, or even a DVD copy of a Santos movie that played prior to Beginning of the End.
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10Lisa shouts out a trivia question!
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13Joan becomes a Hardcore Pawn Star!
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11Bunny wins the wrestling jackpot!
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Adding to the festivities was Lisa wanting Sven to christen her new establishment by providing  his signature on the wall itself. They hilariously interrupted a couple of patrons to do it but, fortunately the two didn’t seem to mind and went along with it.
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Soon the movie was over and, sadly, the event as well (I kept trying to sing The Donny and Marie Osmond “I’m a little bit country” jingle but nobody joined in). During the last segment of Svengoolie’s show I even tried my feeble attempt at performing a live “man at the door” thing with my hand (a Svengoolie fantasy of mine) but I’m not sure he got what I was doing. Sheesh people, I know it was a long night but let’s end things on a high note!
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I walked out with a signed Red-Eye article as well as not one, but a few, of those great posters to share with friends courtesy of the generous Lisa! Looking back, there are two things I can safely say after this Svengoolie appearance…and I am one Sven fan you should take seriously in this regard.
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1) The Squared Circle restaurant is phenomenal and I recommend ALL Svengoolie fans (and those who enjoy damn good food) to head on over there and 2) of the near 35 Svengoolie appearances I’ve attended, this has been my absolute FAVORITE (with Nightmare on Chicago Street a close second) thus far!
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In fact, this is pretty much my idea of what Heaven would be like  (especially if my kids had been there). Svengoolie, good friends, pretty gals, excellent food, and lots of laughs!
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What can I say…I wanna go where everybody knows Sven’s name.
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Dave Fuentes~
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4 responses

  1. Great blog! Sven is the best!

    July 16, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    • Thanks S.L.! Obviously I agree with your Sven-assessment!

      July 16, 2013 at 3:10 pm

  2. mda4life

    Great Post Dave!! Looks like it was a blast. I will have to check out the Svenburger next time I get up to the city. I will have to link back to your post this saturday on my blog.

    July 16, 2013 at 10:55 pm

  3. Thanks for the comment! It was definitely a fun night!

    July 17, 2013 at 5:58 am

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