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Playboy Club May Return To Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A Playboy Club could be back on the Chicago scene next year, for the first time in more than 20 years.

As WBBM Newsradio's Bernie Tafoya reports, Playboy bunnies may seem tame these days when it comes to risqué displays. But Crain's Chicago Business reports plans are in the works for a new Playboy Club in Chicago.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's Bernie Tafoya reports


Crain's reports Playboy Enterprises says it has reached a deal with the Boston-based real estate capital and advisory firm Tremont Realty Capital LLC, to open a Playboy Club in the mansion at 1150 N. Dearborn St.

The mansion is now the site of Il Mulino, a New York-based Italian restaurant. It is a stone's throw from the Division Street nightlife scene with nightspots the Hangge-Uppe and Elm Street Liquors located just to the east on Elm Street.

The Design Slinger blog recalls the mansion originally belonged to banker and Northern Trust company co-founder John DeKoven, the namesake of DeKoven Street on the Near West Side, where the Great Chicago Fire began and the Quinn Fire Academy now stands.

DeKoven commissioned prominent architect Edward Burling to design what the blog calls "a Second Empire house worthy of the banker's status as a business leader."

The house was completed in 1874, three years after the Great Chicago Fire, and the DeKovens held lavish dinner parties that made the society pages for the next 25 years, the blog recalled. DeKoven died in the home in 1898.

Nearly half a century later, the mansion was resurrected as a private dining room by society caterer Joseph H. Biggs, and opened to the general public as Biggs Restaurant in 1964, the blog said. Biggs remained in the mansion for nearly the next 40 years, before being supplanted by Il Mulino.

As for the Chicago Playboy Club, it was opened by Hugh Hefner in 1960 in the old Colony Club building at 116 E. Walton St. Offering a membership to anyone who would purchase a key, the club featured young women in iconic bunny outfits, as well as jazz and vocal performances, the Chicago Bar Project recalls.

The Chicago Playboy Club closed in 1986, around the same time the other 39 Playboy clubs across the country.

In memorializing the old Playboy Club, Chicago Bar Project founder Sean Parnell wrote, "It is this author's hope that something with similar sophistication and style as the Chicago Playboy Club will one day re-emerge in Chicago as the mindless, thumping dance music filling up so many soulless meat markets of late, have outlived their usefulness and appeal."

Since 2006, new Playboy clubs have opened in Las Vegas, London, Macau and Cancun, with an attached hotel or casino, Crain's reported. But the Chicago location would stand alone.

Playboy was founded by Hefner in his Hyde Park neighborhood kitchen in 1953. Earlier this year, Hefner took the company private, amid a long struggle to lure readers and advertisers as adult content on the Internet largely overtook the magazine market.

Playboy is headquartered at 680 N. Lake Shore Dr. in Chicago.

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