Corgan’s Madame ZuZu’s makes long-awaited debut
Musician Billy Corgan talks to a TV reporter during the opening of his new tea house called Madame Zuzu's on Sept. 13 in Highland Park. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
WHAT: Madame Zuzu’s, a teahouse at 582 Roger Williams Ave., Highland Park
OWNERS: Billy Corgan, lead guitarist for the Smashing Pumpkins, and business partner Sharon Mackin-Norberg, owner of the Ravinia Wine Shop
FEATURING: International teas, vegan pastries and a 1930s Chinese-French vibe
HOURS: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Updated: February 10, 2013 9:35AM
HIGHLAND PARK — Ordinarily, the opening of a new teahouse wouldn’t generate much buzz beyond the proprietor’s friends, family and the local chamber.
But as alt-rock fans across Chicagoland know by now, Madame ZuZu’s in Highland Park’s Ravinia business district is not a typical teahouse.
It has the panache of being owned in part by Smashing Pumpkins’ frontman Billy Corgan, a Highland Park resident who envisions a music-infused gathering place for, yes, kindred tea aficionados interested in the arts and lively gab.
The rocker and his business partner, Sharon Mackin-Norberg, owner of the Ravinia Wine Shop across the street, also see the teahouse as a cross-generational hangout. “This is a place with no age boundaries,” said Corgan in a press release. “We hope to attract everyone from young students to seniors. With a blend of music, photo galleries, art displays and speakers, I think Madame ZuZu’s offers something for everyone.”
The teahouse is a nod to Corgan’s love of jazz from the 1930s and Chinoise-inspired Parisian teahouses that drew literary figures and artists.
The much-hyped opening Sept. 13 drew a packed house and line of fans waiting outdoors around noontime, though Corgan was apparently running behind schedule and had not yet put in an appearance. Greg Bates of Mundelein said he played with Corgan in the early 1980s and hoped to touch base with his old acquaintance. Michelle Herman, a “huge Pumpkins fan” and new resident of the Ravinia neighborhood, couldn’t pass up a chance to see Corgan. Lake Forest High School senior Peyton Moore was off from school because of the teachers’ strike, so stopped by with her brother Ryan, who learned of the opening on the Internet.
The café was created out of a former post office storefront at 582 Roger Williams Ave.
A fixture of the teahouse will be a 1930s Bosendorfer upright piano that Corgan, Smashing Pumpkins’ lead guitarist and songwriter, has described as an impulse buy during a stop in Finland in the late 1990s. Tea varieties, ranging in price from $3.25 to $6.75 a pot, represent a mix from around the globe, including ZuZu’s gunpowder green tea, Malawi black, Dragon Jasmine and Phoenix Pearl. The only food served will be vegan pastries.
For patrons who simply must have their java, there is a single variety of Intelligentsia coffee.
The teahouse will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Sunday hours will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The teahouse will be closed on Monday.
Smashing Pumpkins, which has sold some 30 million albums worldwide, is set to kick off a tour around the newly released album, Oceania, on Oct. 10 in Seattle. The tour will make its way to the Allstate Arena in Rosemont on Oct. 19.