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Bunny Microbakery In Lakeview Closes For Good After 'Struggles'

By Ariel Cheung | April 26, 2016 11:53am | Updated on April 26, 2016 12:21pm
 Iliana Regan named her first restaurant after her older sister, Elizabeth. Bunny, Regan's new micro bakery, was Elizabeth's childhood nickname.
Iliana Regan named her first restaurant after her older sister, Elizabeth. Bunny, Regan's new micro bakery, was Elizabeth's childhood nickname.
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DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung

LAKEVIEW — After just four months, the critically beloved Bunny, the microbakery, has closed for good.

The bakery at 2928 N. Broadway closed "for a bit" last week for repairs, but owner Iliana Regan expected to reopen soon after. On Tuesday, though, Bunny's website switched its message from "closed temporarily" to simply "closed."

"Sometimes passion projects involve a few falls and bruises," Regan wrote on Facebook, pledging that this "won't be the last of Bunny."

"Our knees are banged up, but they aren't broke," she said. Regan said she hoped to reopen as Bunny Bakery and Workshop in the future, but has not settled on a timeline or location.

From "day one," the microbakery had financial struggles, partially due to the month of delays in construction work and "simply didn't have the reserves to pull us through for very long," Regan said.

Bunny partner Phil Tadros will keep the storefront and might expand Bunny's curated pop-up theme to a full-time concept, he said Tuesday.

"I look at it as a successful experiment as far as execution, but there was no path to turning it into a [sustainable] business," Tadros said. "The caliber of product quality was so high that doing $10 meals was just not a reasonable model."

Whatever the new concept, Tadros said he would go it "probably on my own," although he commended Regan for her artistic work at Bunny.

"She brought it, and she did a great job, but it's just about [asking] do you keep funding the art, or pivot and turn it into a scalable business," Tadros said.

Tellingly, a Sunday email from Regan's Elizabeth Restaurant spoke of "some struggles with our tiny bakery."

"The best thing you could do to support us right now is to come to dinner" at Elizabeth, the email read. Regan said she will also move forward with plans for her North Center, Japanese-inspired Kitsune.

Bunny sent an email to Kickstarter funders Tuesday announcing the news and attributing the closure to financial issues, Eater Chicago reported

While Regan declined to release the information to those outside the Kickstarter campaign, Eater shared a portion of the email:

Dear Kickstarter Contributor,

It's with an extremely heavy heart to let you know that I will have to close Bunny permanently. Through many delays and expenses incurred we didn't have enough financial backing to pull us through the first few months of leveling out. I have tried in every way I could possibly think of to make this endeavor work and it looks like there is no positive long term solution for me or my team.

I know many of you are long time guests and supporters and everything you have done has been so appreciated.

In front of me, I have a list of all the kickstarter rewards still to be redeemed.

Bunny's January opening was highly anticipated as the follow-up to Regan's Lincoln Square restaurant, Elizabeth. Half-bakery, half-restaurant, Bunny's bread-focused dishes have been raved over in the months since its opening.

More than once, the bakery closed early, posting notes on the front door explaining that it had run out of food for the day.

The bakery was expected to open last May, but Regan said converting the building took much more work than expected.

Last April, Regan's Kickstarter project raised $34,000 from 278 backers to fund Bunny and its curated pop-ups, branded as WunderPOP events.

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