What do you get when you cross a historic downtown office building with an array of trendy foodie offerings?
Answer: DECO, the spectacular new food hall inside the art deco DuPont Building at 10th and Orange Street.
Today’s ‘friends and family’ opening – similar to a spate of other recent Wilmington happenings – featured executives from Buccini/Pollin Group (BPG), Governor John Carney, Mayor Mike Purzycki and other hungry elected officials, who shared how excited they were (a running theme of remarks) to be a part of a bold new dining initiative in the city.
BPG’s Chris Buccini said the DECO opening means much more to the city than just a new food destination. “A lot of people say ‘Oh, we’ve got to make Wilmington more exciting, more exciting.’ I think we’ve made it. It’s exciting. There’s just so much going on,” he said.
DECO’s official grand opening kicks off on Thursday at 5 pm. Two days of celebrations will include live music and giveaways, entertainment for kids and families, a photo booth and food and drink available for purchase from all eight DECO vendors. On Thursday the Stone Shakers will perform live Americana music from 8 pm to 11 pm. And on Friday, Wilmington’s Darnell Miller Band will play funk, rock and soul tunes from 9:30 pm until 11:30 pm.
The eight new eateries inside DECO, an acronym for Delaware Collective, include names both familiar and new for local foodies. Open to the public for breakfast, lunch and dinner and bar service, weekdays starting at 7 am and closing at 11 pm, with extended hours on weekends. DECO is the vision of Buccini, who wanted the DuPont Building’s major tenant – Chemours – to be entirely pleased with their decision to stay in the city. Buccini wanted to create something vibrant that would appeal to workers and downtown visitors seven days a week.
Wearing a bright orange tie which he called his ‘Chemours tie,’ Buccini said, “Chemours really pushed us to create something great here. They were going to stay and keep their 800 employees here if it was great. So this corner of 10th and Orange Street is one small part of our trying to make their experience in this city great.”
The sleek, ‘art deco’ design behind the 25-foot white marble atrium bar, the sign above the entrance, the Dan Flavin-like fluorescent light fixtures, the expansive windows that tilt open, and the attractive restaurant stalls were designed to especially appeal to Millennials, who Mayor Purzycki said will be the lifeblood of the downtown scene. “Year after year we keep trying to find ways to induce people to come down here and really have a great urban experience… BPG, what you do is wonderful for our city. I’m excited about getting in here and trying my first chicken and waffle (a combination you can find at Connie’s Chicken & Waffles).”
More than a great food and dining destination, planners say DECO is a place to gather, celebrate, and enjoy special events. DECO special events manager Shannon Madden said people can look forward to live music on a regular basis, family fun days, brunch on Sundays, and events on holidays. Private event space is available inside DECO.
The eight chef-tenants at DECO 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, a James Beard semifinalist with 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.
For Buccini, today’s occasion was personally significant. Remembering his grandfather, Buccini seemed awestruck about how much has changed since the DuPont building first opened in 1923. “My grandfather turned 100 on Sunday. He came from Italy. Here we are – he worked in this building as someone who was uneducated, someone who didn’t finish high school, a laborer. And to be here today is pretty inspirational.”