De La Coeur to permanently close both coffee shops

De La Coeur sold bread and other baked goods in front of their 40 Acres location, which opened in the fall of 2015 on Saturday mornings. Photo courtesy Social Stylate

De La Coeur, a much-loved Wilmington cafe and patisserie that delighted fans with fresh croissants and made-to-order crepes, has become the latest victim of the coronavirus shutdown.

After days of issuing dire warnings about the possibilities of closing down, owners Gretchen and Alex Sianni told patrons on social media Thursday that they were closing their doors for good.

 

“We can still remember the excitement and anticipation when we first opened on Oct. 10, 2015,” they wrote. “We’ve had amazing opportunities to meet so many wonderful people as our guests, employees and  friends. We hope everybody continues to stay safe and healthy in these uncertain time and that you all will continue to support one another, especially your local small businesses.”

Gretchen and Alex Sianni, owners of De La Coeur, announced this morning they intend to permanently close their business

“Oh, no! I am so sorry,” said Caroline Todd of Wilmington upon hearing the news today. “When I couldn’t travel, De la Coeur was literally a taste of Europe, a getaway when I couldn’t get away.”

Todd, who writes the best-selling Ian Rutledge and Bess Crawford murder mystery series with her son Charles, often travels to Britain and Europe for research and pleasure. “They even know how to make a lovely cup of tea,” Todd said of De la Coeur. “It’s so sad that they won’t be there when at last I can be!”

The corner cafe on Lovering Avenue in 40 Acres offered only eight tables, which frequently turned over as patrons feasted on its coffee, tea, baked good and breakfast and lunch offerings. The cramped dining area and tile floor immersed guests in the feel of a Parisian cafe.

Breakfast and lunchtime diners never seemed to mind waiting for a table. “I have been a faithful customer since the very first day Gretchen and Alex opened,” said Lauren Golt, who lives nearby the 40 Acres location. 

“I ordered a croissant and a latte and continued to stop in once or twice a week. I’m embarrassed to say how much money I’ve spent at De La Couer over the years, especially when I was pregnant and needed a pastry fix! Sad and heartbroken don’t begin to express how I feel that they’re closing,” she said. 

One of the joys of dining there was to see what was available that day, written on a huge chalkboard that dominated the room, and it offered another walk-up option for those in the 40 Acres neighborhood.

The company had plans to expand, but after one try in Talleyville didn’t take root, the cafe tried again in Independence Mall, opening shortly before Gov. John Carney shut down restaurants March 17 to try to slow the spread of COVID-19. They will be allowed to welcome in-house diners in a limited way June 1.

The new guidance demand tables be 8 feet apart, with 6 feet between diners. That would have meant only a few people could eat inside De La Coeur.

 

In the weeks following the closure of their restaurants due to the COVID shutdown, owners Gretchen and Alex shared several posts on Facebook stressing an urgent call to legislators.

In one post they wrote, “Local restaurants won’t reopen unless Congress takes urgent action. Millions will lose their jobs. Hundreds of thousands of businesses will close. And our favorite spots, our memories, the places where communities come together — they’ll be gone forever. #SaveRestaurants.”


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Betsy Price

Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.