[caption id="attachment_218255" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Wilma's on North Market Street features four lanes of duckpin bowling, the first bowling to return to the city's downtown in about 55 years. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS[/caption]
WILMINGTON – After a pandemic-spurred delay of about a year, Buccini/Pollin Group officials cut the ribbon on the new duckpin bowling alley and New Orleans-inspired restaurant Wilma’s off Market Street.Replacing the former Ernest & Scott Taproom, Wilma’s is located at the century-old former Wilmington Trust Bank building at 902 N. Market St. The name is a play on the local Wilmo nickname for the city, officials said.
[caption id="attachment_218257" align="alignleft" width="300"] BPG officials and city leaders cut the ribbon on Wilma's on Friday morning, more than a year after it was initially planned to open but delayed due to COVID-19. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS[/caption]
The 5,700-square-foot space with 30-foot ceilings has been home to a number of restaurants over the decades, including Public House and Great Room of The Residences at Rodney Square. Its next life, however, will try to harness the immense space by adding the draw of duckpin bowling.Unlike traditional bowling, duckpin uses solid 3-pound balls that are about the size of a softball and allows players three rolls per frame rather than two to knock down 10 smaller pins. The game is generally seen as more challenging due to the smaller size of the components – in fact no perfect score of 300 has been recorded in the game’s regulated history.While the number of duckpin alleys has declined dramatically in the 2000s, the sport continues to draw participants in the Mid-Atlantic region and especially Baltimore, where residents claim long-ago Baltimore Orioles players created it after shaving down broken regular-sized bowling pins.Wilma’s sports four lanes for duckpin bowling, as well as a handful of vintage pinball machines for those who can’t score a spot on a lane. Officials at BPG, the mega developer-operator that has poured money into its home city of Wilmington, hope that the menu will likewise be a draw to patrons.A mix of Cajun/Creole favorites from gumbo to po boys, etouffee to beignets will appetize diners looking for something different than what else can be found on Market Street.
[caption id="attachment_218254" align="alignleft" width="300"] Rich Snyder, director of food and beverage for BPG, said the firm is looking to open several more concepts as early as next year. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS[/caption]
“All the ideas started rolling,” said Rich Snyder, director of food and beverage for BPG, of brainstorming with the firm’s executive chef Jimi Sparks to develop the concept.Once they established the identity, Snyder, Sparks and Sarah Lamb, vice president of design and marketing at BPG and a native New Orleanian, took a road trip to the Big Easy to craft an authentic menu. Lamb’s mother, Marie, a baker and chef, joined the group to help make sure it passed the native tongue.“I like the fact that they made it even more contemporary rather than try to just do traditional stuff,” Marie Lamb said during Friday’s grand opening.The opening of Wilma’s is just the beginning of BPG’s impending restaurant and entertainment development in the Market Street corridor.
[caption id="attachment_218258" align="alignright" width="300"] Large windows bring in natural light to the Wilma's space, where seating is smaller due to the addition of the bowling alley. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS[/caption]
Another new concept, Shuffle Libre, will feature shuffleboard lanes and a Cuban-inspired menu that draws upon a theme of South Beach in the 1950s, Snyder said. It will open at 116 W. 9th St. at the ground floor of the Residences at Midtown Park in the summer of 2022. BPG is also looking at an Italian pizzeria concept, Snyder said.Wilma's is now open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays. To make a reservation, visit GoodTimeWilmas.com.
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