By Pam George for Delaware Today
“When chef Bryan Sikora and his wife, Andrea Sikora, decided to open a restaurant, they toured properties on lower Market Street in Wilmington. It was a daring move. Most of the downtown activity occurred above 7th Street, and several restaurants had failed to gain ground below 5th Street. “It was still kind of unpredictable,” Andrea Sikora says of the scene.
The Buccini/Pollin Group (BPG) caught wind of the search, and the downtown developers pitched 421 N. Market Street. La Fia Bistro opened in that space in 2013, and Rob and Chris Buccini now refer to the Sikoras as the “OGs” of downtown Wilmington’s dining renaissance.
They aren’t the only trailblazers. Café Mezzanotte opened in BPG’s Nemours Building in 2003. Across 11th Street is Tonic Seafood & Steak, an outgrowth of Deep Blue Bar & Grill, which opened in 1998. Joe Van Horn of Chelsea Tavern took a chance in 2011 with the late Scott Morrison, the Pennsylvania restaurateur that BPG also recruited.
Today, the Market Street area is a dining destination, from La Fia to The Chancery Market Food Hall & Bar, which opened in December at 1313 N. Market St. Also new are Bardea Steak and The Quoin. These restaurants have helped put Wilmington on Condé Nast Traveler’s 2023 list of the best places to go in the United States. Delaware’s largest city is listed with such popular destinations as Telluride, Seattle and Scottsdale.
But progress has not been easy. “I like to say that we’re a 25-year-old overnight success story,” Chris Buccini says.”