Vietnamese phub, Indian street food, and chicken and waffles are few of the cuisines diners will find inside DECO, the new food hall at the historic DuPont Building at 10th and Orange Streets, which is set to open on April 18th.
The eight new eateries inside DECO, which is an acronym for Delaware Collective, include names both familiar and new for local foodies. With most items ranging between $8 and $12, DECO seems to attract a fast-moving lunch crowd in search of tasty options at a good price.
Brothers Khari and Shawn Parker are bringing Connie’s Chicken and Waffles to DECO, their first location outside of Maryland for the Baltimore duo. “These are very different types of Belgian waffles,” said Khari Parker. Buttermilk waffles will be available in every flavor from blueberry and chocolate chip to Oreo cookie and red velvet cake. There’s even Crunch Berry, made with crushed Berry Captain Crunch. “Then you can add chicken tenders or whole wings on top in flavors like jerk wings, buffalo wings, teriyaki and Old Bay wings. I know, it sounds pretty crazy,” said Shawn Parker. The ‘super-large’ waffles will sell for $10 each.
Phubs Vietnamese Pho and Subs combines the two most popular Vietnamese dishes under one name. Pho is a beef-based broth soup with noodles, beef slices and veggies. “We’re really excited to put our flavor out there for everybody,” said owner Paul Nguyen.
With one location in Old City, Philadelphia, Stripp’d Juice is looking forward to introducing their brand of fresh pressed organic juices and açaí bowls to diners in Wilmington. Operating partners Jason Brooke and Khoran Horn have won best of Philadelphia for their açaí bowl concoctions, which they attribute to recipes made from scratch. “Most people cut open a package and pour in the mix, then add toppings. Ours is totally original and all fresh ingredients you won’t find it anywhere else. And ours isn’t runny. We also have unique toppings like Goji berries and hemp seed. And we make own own peanut butter,” said Horn.
The Verandah Kitchen owner Radhika Sule said lovers of Indian cuisine will see something different when they visit her booth inside DECO. “Typically in the U.S., Indian food is served in long buffets lines, where many of the dishes look similar. Well, our Indian street food is much lighter. It’s hand-picked finger foods. We do offer meals, but we will offer wraps with kabobs. Think of it as Indian with a contemporary twist,” she said.
Hotel DuPont Executive Pastry Chef Leah Steinberger and Quentin Cross, formerly with Brew Ha Ha in Greenville, are set to open Spark’d, a pastry and coffee shop with curated and seasonal coffees from Philadelphia coffee producer La Colombe along with baked goodies made fresh daily in the hotel’s kitchen right next door. “My signature is working with a flavor you don’t normally see in pastries. I incorporate savory flavors in some of my pastries,” said Steinberger.
James Beard Award nominees Chef Antimo DeMeo and Scott Stein of Bardea will open the new Pizzeria Bardea with Neopolitan-inspired pizza and farm-to-table salads.
And chef Al Chu, a long-time head chef at Mikimotos, returns to Wilmington to run Al Chu’s Sushi. “I’m going to bring the best sushi in town,” he said. Chu had been at Mikimotos for 16 years until 2017, when restaurant ownership changed hands. Chu has been working at a restaurant in Charlestown, Maryland and will now split his time between the two locations. “This seemed like a great opportunity to come back to Wilmington and do what I love here,” he said.
The eight chef-tenants at DECO will include:
- Spark’d, a creative pastry shop specializing in all-day baked goods, coffee and special-occasion cakes
- Connie’s Chicken & Waffles, a Baltimore favorite that is thrilled to expand into Wilmington
- Pizzeria Bardea, offering Neapolitan-inspired pies and farm-to-table salads
- Phubs, serving Vietnamese pho, banh-mi subs and rice bowls
- The Verandah, an Indian street food outpost for samosas, kabab wraps, chaats, parathas and tikka masala
- Stripp’d, offering smoothies, juices, acai bowls and salads
- Al Chu’s Sushi, sushi and poke – and a triumphant return! – from a Wilmington legend
- The Pop-Up, or “test kitchen,” which will serve as a home to a rotating roster of chef-tenants that will change biweekly to monthly throughout the year. The first tenant of The Pop-Up will be Dan Sheridan and the Locale BBQ Post, with barbecue sandwiches and classic sides.
Developers Buccini/Pollin Group hope the new food hall will energize a long-dormant area of downtown.
“This has been a dead corner for as long as I can remember,” said Chris Buccini. “We’re bringing light, we’re bringing energy and excitement to this corner. Very few people lived around here. But we’re going to be building 200 apartments above here (above DECO), we have 100 apartments over there (pointing to the building next door) and we have our new apartments at the Residences at Mid-town Park. Wilmington isn’t a 9 to 5 town anymore,” said Bucccini.
DECO will be open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and bar service, weekdays starting at 7 a.m. and closing at 11 p.m., with extended hours on weekends.
The 13,000 square foot, $4 million facility includes seating for 250 as well as a private event space and bar. DECO will be managed by Imian Partners, who manage the nearby Constitution Yards Beer Garden. They will also specifically manage the large atrium bar, as they make DECO a centerpiece of downtown Wilmington’s resurgent restaurant scene.
Buccini/Pollin looked at food halls in 12 cities across the country before finding a partner just down the road at R. House in Baltimore, developed by Seawall. Three of the new restaurants inside DECO were pop-up tenants at R. House. Even the pop-up kitchen and private event space were ideas borrowed from the Baltimore food hall.
“Chris and Rob came to visit us at R. House and they liked the atmosphere and the architecture, plus our attractive seating area, and the fact that the bar anchors the space and gives a focal point for a fun experience with the food hall. They liked what we created — something that was casual and comfortable but also offered delicious food,” said Seawall Project Manager Peter Diprinzio. Seawall has overseen the development and operations at DECO but will soon hand that off to Imian Partners.
DECO will officially open to the public at 5 pm on Thursday, April 18, with celebratory events throughout the evening and until 12 midnight on Friday, April 19. The grand opening party will feature live music, swag giveaways, entertainment for kids and families, a photo booth, and food and drink available for purchase from all eight DECO vendors.