Wilma is coming to Wilmo.
A new downtown entertainment venue will hit Market Street later this year, offering duckpin bowling, a pinball arcade and plenty of food and drink.
“Wilma’s” is set to replace the Ernest and Scott Taproom at 902 North Market, who will close their doors for good on Friday.
The Buccini/Pollin Group (BPG) is behind Wilma’s, a new concept for the city scheduled to open in the fall of 2020. The 5,700 square foot space will be transformed from a popular lunch and after-work hangout to a place for “boisterous games & dangerously good times” in downtown Wilmington, the company said in a release.
The iconic two-story Delaware Trust bank lobby has served as a classic setting for Ernest & Scott with mezzanine level dining and entertainment areas. The restaurant has served as an early, and critical pillar of the city’s efforts to revitalize Market Street. Joe Van Horn of Open Doors Hospitality Group operates both Ernst & Scott and the Chelsea Tavern across the street. He purchased the restaurants after the sudden passing of founder Scott Morrison in 2016.
Van Horn said he was proud to have “kept Morrison’s legacy alive” and welcomed the new entry into the downtown food and entertainment scene.
“He saw the promise of Market Street very early on, and I know he would have been proud to see the growth that Downtown Wilmington has experienced recently,” said Van Horn. “Wilma’s is a welcome addition to Market Street.”
Van Horn noted that gift cards and Groupon vouchers for Ernest and Scott will be honored at Chelsea Tavern.
Renderings Wilma’s are not yet available, but BPG executives say they are working with vendor consultants to outfit the space with old school entertainment. Other new duckpin bowling and arcade facilities in the US include games like ping pong, bocce ball and shuffleboard.
BPG’s Sarah Lamb, vice president of design and marketing, said the tighter downtown space will require creativity and smart decisions about layout and offerings.
“We are trying to fit the entertainment program into an existing old bank space, and we’re seeing what can fit and how to best optimize the space,” said Lamb, adding that other similar concepts often have three times the area to work with. “It’s going to be a bit more curated than other similar concepts around the country,” she said.
BPG plans to manage the food and beverage operation as they do with I.M. Coffee and Maker’s Alley, a year-round indoor/outdoor beer garden on Orange Street, which BPG designed and opened in September this year.
Philadelphia Branding company Cohere, in Philadelphia, helped come up with the name. “We loved that it was a little unexpected,” said Lamb. “It’s this 1920’s makerspace that would normally be masculine. The notion of this female and rebellious figure that would shape this space was really exciting. The name is almost like a female take on ‘Wilmo,’ said Lamb.
Lamb said BPG’s latest hospitality effort in Wilmington continued to build a “wave of establishments” – including DECO food hall, Bardea and Makers Alley – making downtown a destination for people of all ages and from across the region.