If you’ve recently walked past 902 N. Market St. and saw a red-haired figure named Wilma, downtown Wilmington might have felt a little like Bedrock.
At the entrance of the former Ernest & Scott Taproom there is now a temporary sign for Wilma’s, a new leisure hall with duck-pin bowling and a small arcade, announcing that it is coming soon.
A game of the city’s name rather than “The Flintstones” – sorry, Bronto burgers aren’t on the menu – it will bring a new type of entertainment destination right to the heart of downtown.
When it was first announced in January 2020, the leisure hall had an opening date in autumn 2020. The pandemic struck and the project stalled.
The 5,700 square meter area is now due to open in autumn.
“We decided to hold the project on hold during the pandemic while learning more about the virus and the social landscape,” said Sarah Lamb, vice president of design and marketing at The Buccini / Pollin Group.
Lamb recently detailed some of Wilma’s offerings for Delaware Online / The News Journal / and revealed that it will feature four duck-pin bowling lanes, among other games.
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Like the popular Dave & Buster’s chain, there will also be a separate dining room and full-service bar serving New Orleans-inspired dishes and allowing those looking for fun to experience the good time in more ways than one.
The social media channels for Wilma’s were recently activated (@goodtimewilmas on Facebook and Instagram) and now contain posts that draw attention to what’s coming.
Wilma’s is operated by developers The Buccini / Pollin Group, which also operates The Queen, DECO Food Hall, Maker’s Alley Biergarten and Hotel du Pont’s Le Cavalier, formerly the Green Room.
The Buccini / Pollin Group has been wanting to open a relaxation area in the city center for more than five years.
Lamb said there will be private rental space at Wilma that will be “completely made unrecognizable to previous customers of the former facilities.”
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After eight years of operation, Ernest & Scott closed in January 2020 when the Wilma project was first announced.
Wilma’s will be located at street level in the former Delaware Trust Building owned by the Buccini / Pollin Group.
It was built in 1921 and housed restaurants for a decade.
The Philadelphia-based public house chain took over the 30-foot-ceiling space in 2009, replacing the Great Room of The Residences in Rodney Square, which is in the same building.
After two years, Ernest & Scott replaced Taproom in January 2012.
While both restaurants tried their best with the cavernous space, none succeeded.
“I’ve never been a fan of space – I knew the barriers of a huge place with great, big open spaces,” said Ernest & Scott owner Joe Van Horn in January 2020. “It’s great when you have 700 people, but they are sucks on a Tuesday afternoon. “
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There is too much space for a traditional restaurant in the old bank, but it is not big enough for a proper bowling alley either.
That is why Buccini / Pollin turned to duckpin bowling, which requires a little less space and is becoming increasingly popular, especially in northeastern metropolitan areas. Duckpin bowling uses a grapefruit-sized ball with no finger holes to knock over shorter, smaller, and lighter pins.
When it opens, Wilma’s will be the only duckpin bowling center in town.
It builds on the family-oriented entertainment that has grown in downtown and on the Riverfront in recent years, including Riverwalk Mini Golf, Riverfront Rink, Constitution Yards Beer Garden, 76ers Fieldhouse, Jack A. Markell Trail, and Penn Cinema Riverfront 14 + IMAX .
Everything surrounds the Delaware Children’s Museum on the Riverfront, the state’s first and only kid-oriented museum that opened more than a decade ago in the former Kahunaville.
Do you have a story idea? Contact Ryan Cormier of The News Journal at email@example.com or (302) 324-2863. Follow him on Facebook (@ryancormierdelawareonline) and Twitter (@ryancormier).