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Playboy Club slated to return to Chicago

Backers say Playboy's hometown is the ideal market for a new club. They're planning a high-end restaurant and lounge as a modern take on the classic 1960s club.

August 29, 2011|By Robert Channick

Reporting from Chicago — The bunnies are coming back to Chicago.

Backers of a new Playboy Club say they're planning a modern take on the classic 1960s nightclub, slated to open early next year.

Tom Morgan, general counsel for Boston-based Tremont Realty Capital, is heading up a group that has signed an exclusive deal with Playboy Enterprises to bring bunnies back to the city where it all started more than 50 years ago.

"We think the time is now," said Morgan, whose group includes several unnamed Chicago partners. "We think the Chicago market is going to react very favorably to what we're going to offer."

Several sites are being considered for the new club, including one near the original Playboy Club at 116 E. Walton St., which closed in 1986. The group is working with Tremont to secure a venue between 10,000 and 15,000 square feet, according to Morgan.

The plan for the club itself is a work in progress, but includes a high-end restaurant and lounge "in the classic Playboy Club style," according to Morgan. The club will be open to the public but will offer perks to key-holding members. Of course, it will also include waitresses in costumes that will at least pay homage to the original corseted and cottontailed outfits from the 1960s.

"The Playboy Bunny is an iconic image, and that's certainly not going to change dramatically," Morgan said.

The original clubs folded years ago, but Playboy revived the concept in 2006 as a franchise at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. Since then, new-generation Playboy Clubs have opened in London, Macau and Cancun, Mexico, all of which feature casinos. Morgan is betting that the Chicago club will prove successful, even without gambling.

"As Playboy has been expanding their club business worldwide, it just makes sense to have a marquee club in their hometown," Morgan said. "There are few other cities in the U.S. where it would make this much sense."

rchannick@tribune.com

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