Mike Stanley says he would never have started his food truck business – and wouldn’t have opened his new restaurant today in Wilmington – were it not for the inspiration of Guy Fieri, the uber-popular host of Diners Drive-ins and Dives.
Last month, when Fieri and his crew came for the first time ever to Delaware (TSD with the coverage), Stanley stopped by the Farmer & the Cow on Market Street, where DDD was taping, to hand deliver a personal note — a letter of thanks to Fieri, who he credits with spurring him to follow his culinary dreams.
“In my note, I basically thanked the producers and Guy Fieri for even having the show at all. The reason that I have a business is because of that show,” said Stanley.
”When I saw what Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives did for the little guys – that people can go out and actually do what they love on a small scale and compete with the big boys and not fail – I knew I could do it, too.”
Stanley managed local restaurants before taking the leap into the food truck revolution in July of 2014 with his WilDWiCH gourmet sandwiches — later branching into rice bowls and salads. He opened his first restaurant in Wilmington on Delaware Avenue in the Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield building three years ago and his second restaurant at 405 King Street today.
“The first two years (at 800 Delaware Avenue) were horrible — we barely got by. We’re kind of on the outskirts there. But the last year has been really good. We finally have enough of a following, it’s doing really well. Strong enough that we needed a second location and a bigger kitchen.”
One of those who has enjoyed the WiLDWiCH sandwiches is U.S. Senator Chris Coons, who joined Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki, other City officials and a representative from the Middletown Chamber of Commerce for a ribbon cutting at this morning’s grand opening. (Stanley is a member of the Middletown Chamber because, well, his mom lives there.)
Coons thanked Stanley for “fueling my office. We are huge WiLDWiCH fans in the Coons office here in Wilmington.”
Addressing Stanley’s sons, Coons said, “I know it matters to your dad that you are here. Getting to see your dad in terms of the risk he’s taking and the way he’s making people happy I think is a big moment for you. Your dad has invented and innovated some great sandwiches.”
Coons’ favorite sandwich is the T-Rex, thinly sliced steak, horseradish spread, baby arugula with crispy onion strings. But he loves the coffee, too, which is La Colombe out of Philadelphia.
Stanley says he took a good look at the lunchtime marketplace before gearing up his only food truck and his now 2 brick and mortar locations. “I was doing my research, and I found out that people who buy lunch in a downtown environment buy 60% sandwiches. So I decided to make some wildly good ones.” Stanley says everything is made from scratch – even the mayonnaise.
“WiLDWiCH came out of a weird internet search – it was two words thrown together and nobody owned it. So that allowed me to add just ‘.com’ at the end of my name, which was easy,” he said.
The new WiLDWiCH will be open for breakfast and lunch only, with breakfast sandwiches, oatmeal and baked goods from De La Coeur Cafe et Boulangerie in the morning and a variety of hot and cold sandwiches, soups and salads from 11 am to 3 pm daily. Customers can also order ahead online.
The WiLDWiCH food truck will continue, rolling into Rodney Square for the farmers markets on Wednesdays and special events in Fridays and Saturdays throughout the summer.