CHICAGO -- With the ongoing global pandemic, wildfires raging across the West, the impending election and winter and whatever else this crazy year has in store, we could all use some comfort and calm. Chicagoans can find just that at a unique new business in Lakeview.
Chicago is known as the home of a certain chain of nightclubs whose logo and waitresses are bunnies. In June a new bunny club opened in town with much more wholesome intentions.
Cuddle Bunny's purpose is in the name itself: Guests of the club can snuggle with a cute cast of rabbits for $12 an hour. With plush pillows and relaxing music, owner Barbara "BB" Burdick says she and her team strive to create a "Zen" atmosphere for high-quality bunny bonding.
"I think that bunnies are probably one of the cutest creatures to inhabit the face of the Earth," she said. "Just watching them sleep, breathe, eat, drink water, wiggle their nose and run around... Everything they do is cute."
There are few places on Earth quite like Cuddle Bunny. Burdick was inspired to open the club after hearing about a friend's visit to various animal cafés in Japan. There are no other bunny clubs or cafés outside of that country to her knowledge.
Burdick spent more than two decades working in HR before dreaming up this hare-brained (pun intended) business. Searching for the perfect future snuggle spot and then getting the proper permits and licenses to build out the bunny club all took some time, not to mention that a global pandemic slowed the process down even further. Cuddle Bunny ended up opening its doors June 21.
"Opening in the middle of the pandemic was very scary," Burdick said. "When we first opened our doors, the foot traffic going by was very minimal."
But the pandemic has provided some positives, too.
A customer posted a video of her visit on TikTok, a social network that's exploded thanks to quarantine. With more than 250,000 views, foot traffic picked up considerably.
"The place is hopping!" she said.
Burdick also feels the pandemic has made Cuddle Bunny's services more relevant than ever.
"People need some type of a getaway," she said. "Cuddle Bunny provides a safe space for people to get away and relax and just have kind of a Zen moment with the bunnies."
And since we're limited from socializing with and touching other people, petting bunnies fills that void, giving our brains a much-needed dose of oxytocin.
"It's really good to see people come in and smile and laugh and as they're leaving, just telling us that they had a wonderful time," Burdick said.
Meet Burdick's bunnies in the video above and check out the club's website for more information.