EAST LAKEVIEW — Blink and you'll miss it.
That's how quickly passers-by could miss the soon-to-open Bunny microbakery at 2928 N. Broadway.
While a new sign with a big, flashing arrow will help, the former location of an adult bookstore gets swallowed up by its neighbors. One wanderer came into Bunny on a recent afternoon in search of a slice from Nancy's Pizza next door.
The long-anticipated Bunny is scheduled to open Jan. 22 after months of red tape delays. Converting the building for a new use involved much more than chef-owner Iliana Regan initially realized, she said Wednesday.
In the weeks leading up to the microbakery's scheduled opening last May, Regan found out she'd need to call in architects and submit blueprints for the remodeling and get more permits.
Eight months later, her ducks are in a row and the city has given its final approval, Regan said.
The microbakery Bunny is scheduled to open at 2928 N. Broadway in East Lakeview on Jan. 22. With a small space, Bunny will bake small batches, meaning, "we do so many of each thing — like a dozen — every day, and then we don't have any more," chef-owner Iliana Regan said. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]
"I was originally stressed about opening another business, but that stress was nothing compared to, 'What do I do with all these employees I hired who are coming to work for me?' and 'Now we have no money and we don't even know if we're going to have a restaurant,'" Regan said.
The employees spent the wait working at Elizabeth, Regan's Michelin-starred, whimsical restaurant.
Named for her beloved older sister, Elizabeth opened in 2012. Bunny was a family nickname for Elizabeth, who died a decade ago. Regan is also planning a third eatery in North Center, the Japanese-inspired Kitsune.
Iliana Regan named her first restaurant after her older sister, Elizabeth. Bunny, Regan's new microbakery, was Elizabeth's childhood nickname. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]
Bunny, though, inherits Elizabeth's best and "most fawned over" dishes and reincorporates them for the bread-focused eatery. The restaurant seats six, making it a manageable second venture for an owner who admits she's "a control freak, but in a quality-control way."
Half-bakery, half-restaurant, Bunny will feature dishes ranging from Regan's famed pierogis to loaded tartines and toast. Regan and her chefs have been testing out sourdough soup bowls, sourdough doughnuts and a grizzly burger on a housemade caraway brioche bun. Elizabeth's mushroom tea is another standout Regan looks forward to featuring, along with daily Dutch oven dishes like chicken and dumplings or stuffed cabbage.
"It's like a mini, bread-focused restaurant that's open during the day," Regan said. Occasionally Bunny might dip its toes into cakes and pies, but they won't be the mainstay, she said.
While still getting finishing touches like tables and chairs, Bunny's decor on a recent afternoon was starting to take root, with items like decorative mounted animal sculptures. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]
At night, Regan and guest chefs will curate pop-ups as Wunder POP during Bunny's off-hours. Over the next year, she and the other chefs envision hosting bread-making classes, a BYOB ramen bar and a Japanese tasting night.
In April, Regan's Kickstarter project raised $34,000 from 278 backers to fund the two concepts.
Regan knows it'll take some time for her new neighborhood to adjust to the unique format of Bunny and Wunder POP, but "what I noticed about a lot of businesses in this area is there are a lot of really quirky ones," she said. "So I feel like it will work for us."
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