Billy Corgan is working on opening a cool little tea house in suburban Highland Park. The Smashing Pumpkins founder and frontman lives in the tony North Shore burgh and frankly is tired of not having cool cultural things to do.
“We want to open it because there’s nothing really to do up here,” Corgan said, adding that it’s a beautiful place to live. “But [there's a] lack of culture for someone in their 30s or 40s. I think for such a nice place you need places to go and meet people and exchange ideas. That’s the idea fot the tea house … a place to gather.”
The unnamed tea shop will take over the former U.S. Post Office in the Ravinia neighborhood on Roger Williams Avenue. They recently signed the lease and have been working with Highland Park’s mayor, who Corgan said has been incredibly supportive. The shop, which he’s aiming to open in March or April, will seat about 30 people and have a 1930s Chinese-style tea house vibe. “It’s a little bit of a salon vibe, not modern at all. Very old school,” he said. “What we’re going for is that Chinese-French style.”
Corgan, a self-proclaimed tea guy, said he wants this to be a gathering place with rotating exhibits and speakers. He wants people of mixed ages to come enjoy either a simple cup of tea or become engaged in a lecture on archeology, view local or nationally touring art or listen to live music, but think more Fred Astaire than Radiohead as Corgan likes things with a more vintage feeling. “It has a whimsical feel to it … it’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time in terms of space, but what we put into the space will change,” he said. “My dream number is changing it 15 to 20 times a month where you’re inviting people to talk about film or have an open mic night.”