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Billy Corgan Opening Tea House in Chicago

Billy Corgan
Cindy Ord, Getty Images

Say what you will about Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan, but he certainly seems to be a well-rounded fellow. Months after announcing his plans to co-found a professional wrestling league, Corgan has revealed his next business venture: a Chinese-style tea house in Chicago’s Highland Park neighborhood.

“We want to open it because there’s nothing really to do up here,” shrugged Corgan, who declared his dissatisfaction with the area’s general “lack of culture for someone in their 30s or 40s.”

That doesn’t mean Corgan doesn’t think the Chicago suburbs are a nice place to live. Quite the contrary. It’s just that, as he put it, “I think for such a nice place you need places to go and meet people and exchange ideas. That’s the idea for the tea house … a place to gather.”

Lest you think a tea house is the same thing as a coffee shop, think again — Corgan hastens to remind potential customers that this will be a far cry from your neighborhood Starbucks. “Starbucks is all about ‘sameness’ and it attracts the same f—ing people. I don’t want to hang out with those people. I’m not into that cookie-cutter culture,” he explained.

In contrast, his tea house will have “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. 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.”

Asked if he plans to take an active role in the shop’s day-to-day vibe, Corgan says he hopes so, but “if people come in to stalk me I won’t hang out because I don’t want to disrupt the customers.” For him, business ventures like this one are all about balance. “I’ve learned that if you don’t fill up the other side of your life with things you’re interested in it hurts the musical side,” he said. “It’s about achieving balance.”

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