VALUEZTV PM EDITION
Current statewide restaurant dining restrictions are not stopping progress on two retro, stainless steel-style diners scheduled to open by early fall in Wilmington and Talleyville.
While "Happy Days'' are not yet quite here again, Goober's Diner and Brandywine Diner are gearing up to begin offering fried eggs, pancakes, burgers, French fries and more.
Goober's Diner, from the owners of Buckley's Tavern, could open by September at 13th and Lincoln streets in Wilmington.
And just a few miles away, the new Brandywine Diner is taking over the former Famous Dave's site at 303 Rocky Run Parkway in Talleyville's Brandywine Commons center.
James Pinckney and Tess Scott, brokers specializing in restaurants for West Chester, Pennsylvania-based Zommick McMahon Commercial Real Estate, helped connect restaurateur Andy Elghawy with the location for his coming soon Brandywine Diner.
"Providing that everything goes to schedule, I intend to open in October," said Elghawy, who also is a co-owner of the Springfield Diner at 720 Baltimore Pike in Springfield, Pennsylvania.
A lease for Brandywine Diner was signed in December and construction is ongoing at the building sandwiched between TGIFridays and the Olive Garden in the center off Concord Pike.
Although the morning chow line has shut down for good at the popular Crossroads restaurant in the Milltown-area, the focus on breakfast-friendly establishments has been growing in Delaware over the past few years.
Metro Diner franchises have been popping up in New Castle County over the past three years and other new eateries focused on the first meal of the day include First Watch and Eggspectation, both near Stanton; Turning Point in Christiana, and the new Ciro Forty Acres,which opened in late July in Wilmington.
Last April, The Legend, a new American restaurant and bakery near the New Castle County Airport, took over the spot of the former Arner's restaurant.
A first look at Goober's
Goober's Diner in Wilmington is a two-story structure, built in Atlanta, that was reconstructed a few weeks ago across from Grotto Pizza off Pennsylvania Avenue.
The "Great American" 1950s-style modular building was shipped on a flatbed truck in several pieces and reassembled on site.
When it was exposed, "it was like a Barbie house. You could see through it," joked Tom Hannum, a co-owner of Buckley's Tavern in Centreville.
Hannum will run the diner for owner Vance Kershner, who also is a partner at Buckley's. The diner is a companion to a next-door vintage car garage, known as Goober's Garage. It houses a vast collection of classic automobiles and motorcycles owned by Kershner.
Goober's Garage will not be open regularly to the public, but Hannum said diner customers will be able to view the cars on special occasions.
Delaware has allowed indoor service at restaurants since June, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, it has capped customer capacity at 60 percent.
Tables and booths must be arranged in a way that ensures customers at one table are at least 6-feet apart from customers who are adjacent to or facing them.
No date has been given when full-service dining in Delaware restaurants can resume.
Until restrictions are lifted, patrons at Goober's Diner will be seated at every third counter stool, said Hannum as he led a reporter through the two-story building that has a black-and-white checkerboard floor and red-and-white tile on the walls.
Tables, equipped with USB charging stations, will be spaced out among the two stories. Patrons can access the second floor via a full-service passenger elevator.
(Because the dishwashing station is on the second floor, the restaurant also has a dumbwaiter.)
The diner will have a walk-up window for quick-on-the-go sandwiches and coffee. Hannum said Goober's will have more than a dozen parking spots and parking available on Lincoln Street. He said a red-and-blue neon sign should be erected on the diner soon.
Goober's will serve breakfast all day with dishes such as Kirby & Holloway sausage gravy and biscuits ($9.95), creamed chipped beef with toast and cheesy potatoes ($9.95), and chocolate chip hotcakes with a choice of bacon, scrapple, sausage or turkey bacon ($8.95).
Dinner will be served Tuesdays through Saturdays until 9 p.m. It will close Sundays and Mondays at 7 p.m.
The menu also will offer burgers, onion rings and classic Reuben sandwiches along with entrees under $12 including fried chicken, fried flounder, spaghetti and meatballs, chicken pot pie, salmon croquettes and open-faced crab melts.
"A more modern feel' at Brandywine
Brandywine Diner, just a few miles away, also will be a retro-style stainless steel diner.
"I have often gravitated toward retro style feels for my previous locations, but decided to go with a more modern theme with the Brandywine Diner," said Andy Elghawy, who will be the sole owner of the site.
He said the diner will be open daily from 6 a.m. to midnight.
Brandywine Diner will have 235 seats. For a quicker dining experience, Elghawy said customers can also sit at a counter area.
For larger gatherings, the restaurant will have two dining rooms which can accommodate larger parties or be booked for family events and business meetings.
Elghawy said he did not originally plan on having outdoor dining, "but given recent events, we intend to add outdoor seating."
Brandywine Diner will have an extensive menu with breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes. He said it also will offer Greek specialty and Mediterranean dishes.
Baking will be done on the premises and a dessert case will feature several pastries, including the owner's favorite strawberry cheesecake.
A website, brandywinediner.com, is coming soon, as is a Facebook page. The menu will be posted on the website.
Diners are favorite Delaware landmarks
Stainless steel diners have a long history in Delaware.
When it comes to the best preserved stainless steel diner in the state, Doyle's in Selbyville (formerly Woody's) is the oldest one.
In 2015, a historical marker was placed outside of the beautifully preserved Silk City diner that sits off U.S. 113. The Silk City diner car was first brought to Sussex County from Paterson, New Jersey, in 1950.
The Sturgis family owned and operated the property until 1983 when it was purchased by the Doyle family.
The chrome Hollywood Diner at 123 N. Dupont Highway in Dover has long been a Kent County landmark. It was one of six stainless steel Hollywood Diners, built by the Fodero Dining Car Co. of Bloomfield, New Jersey, that were situated from Wilmington to Seaford.
The Dover diner, the only one remaining, has had a rocky history over the years, and the site has been closed since 2019.
The former ChesDel Restaurant in St. Georges, which closed in February 2018 after a 38-year run, was made up of two old stainless steel diners that had been put together by the restaurant owners.
According to News Journal archives, ChesDel owners Earle and Mary Lester bought the former Country Girl Diner in Wilmington and moved it to their farm south of the St. Georges Bridge.
Then, they combined it with the old Viking Diner, which had been at Hares Corner. According to News Journal archives, they pay about $18,000 for the two diners.
After combining the diners, the Lesters covered the outside of the building with tan stone. The light atop the building was salvaged from the old Glasgow Arms in Bear.