Madame ZuZu’s brings teatime back to a new location in Highland Park.
An iconic Grammy-winning musician and a faux fur fashion designer walk into a tearoom. So goes the story of new Highland Park spot Madame ZuZu’s, purveyor of rare teas and champion of plant-based food and eclectic retail founded in 2012 by Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins, who was soon joined by his partner, Maison Atia fashion designer Chloe Mendel.
After closing its original location in 2018, the pair have unveiled a new and expanded Highland Park location. The vibe: 1930s teahouse meets beaux-arts salon, with loose-leaf tea blends, performances, health-filled fare and artist installations galore. “ZuZu’s is a dream in process,” Corgan says. “Our business model is simple: healthy living combined with an open-source venue for the arts, where everyone in our community can gather and share.”
For these Highland Park residents, opening the neighborhood spot was a natural step. “We feel it’s important to give back to our communities through providing jobs, art and culture,” Mendel explains. “Highland Park is a special town with a rich history in the arts, and it was only fitting to keep the history alive. Plus, we can walk there from our home, which is so nice.”
The menu here is afternoon tea meets healthcentric cafe, where fine teas developed in collaboration with Rare Tea Cellar mingle with grain bowls, comfort foods, nutrient-dense salads, mushroom coffee and matcha lattes. On the food front, Mendel names Grandma Jojo’s Meatball Sub as a longtime customer favorite, as well as her personal pick, ZuZu’s rendition of a banh mi with in-house pickled vegetables and non-GMO tofu baked in miso marinade. “It’s delicious!” she says.
The main draw, of course, is the selection of hard-to-find teas—from Emperor’s Chamomile Rose Blossom to French Kissed Moroccan Mint. “Our tea really stands out,” says Mendel. “We have a great collection of rare teas from around the world, and we work closely with Rare Tea Cellar to bring our customers incredible teas without being pretentious or overwhelming.”
Up next, Corgan and Mendel hope to welcome creatives to ZuZu’s art deco-style stage and host events like silent-movie night, stand-up comedy and cooking classes—all when deemed safe. For now, delivery and takeaway remain the name of the game. “If you simply walk inside our space, you immediately know it is truly one of a kind,” says Mendel. “It’s really special and has great energy.” 1876 First St., Highland Park, madamezuzus.com
Photography by: Courtesy of Madame ZuZu's