After 87 years in business, Leo & Jimmy’s Delicatessen on Market Street opened its doors for the last time today. Hundreds of well wishers, family members, former patrons and staff, and a handful of politicians all stopped by the deli to say goodbye to Barbara Hackett, the wife of the late owner Jimmy Hackett. The pair became co-owners of the deli in 1951.
Mayor Mike Purzycki and members of the Wilmington City Council offered words of gratitude to Hackett, who built a loyal customer base with deli favorites and homemade recipes.
Today, generations of Leo & Jimmy’s fans enjoyed free slices of cake while browsing shelves filled with decades of memorabilia. It was one last trip down memory lane for many who had come to call the Market Street eatery their lunchtime home.
“For the folks who work downtown, Leo & Jimmy’s was an institution,” said Rebecca Collins, who used to work at a law firm in downtown Wilmington. “Everybody I know at some point grabbed lunch at Leo & Jimmy’s.”
Jimmy Hackett, who died in 2015, was was affectionately known as the “Mayor of Market Street” because of his devotion to downtown improvement and revitalization programs. The small business owner was also a leading member of the Downtown Business Association, the Police Advisory Council and worked closely with the Wilmington Library and The Grand Opera House.
Mayor Purzycki told the crowd that nothing will be able to replace the iconic Leo & Jimmy’s and that Wilmington will miss Barbara’s tasty offerings and friendly personal style. “We are sad to lose a business that is loved by so many, but we wish them nothing but the best,” said Purzycki.