Hotel du Pont reopens, but lays off executive chef and other employees

@VALUEZTV AM EDITION



Patricia Talorico


Wilmington's landmark Hotel du Pont, shut down for three months due to the coronavirus pandemic, reopened Monday and laid off 11 employees, including its executive chef. 


Some of the 10 managers let go were in the hotel's food and beverage department and another employee had held an administrative position.


The historic Hotel du Pont at the corner of 11th and Market streets has long been known for lavish dining at its restaurants. It is considered one of the city's gems and is unofficially thought of as Wilmington's "front door."


The hotel, considered one of the most prestigious properties in the state, has more than 25,000 square feet of space with facilities that can accommodate up to 400 guests.


Opulent weddings and parties are held in the Gold Ballroom and du Barry Room, and the hotel has conference rooms and 11 private dining rooms.


The coronavirus has halted much business travel and social gatherings in recent months. Many of downtown Wilmington's office buildings emptied as employees shifted to work-at-home status.


The Hotel du Pont closed March 29, said Jennifer Diamond Haber, vice president of communications for the PM Hotel Group, which manages the site for owner The Buccini/Pollin Group.


At that time, a number of its employees were furloughed, she said.


Before Monday's reopening, 11 hotel employees were told they were being laid off.


"We were hoping business levels would recover more quickly and only just made this difficult decision," Haber said in an email Wednesday.


Haber said the Hotel du Pont has "very low occupancy at this point."


Banquets, meetings and other scheduled catering events at the Hotel du Pont have been postponed or rescheduled because of COVID-19 restrictions.


Laying off employees, Haber said, "is an appropriate response for the hotel at this time." 


The coronavirus crisis has devastated the nation's hotel and restaurant industry. 


Haber said the loss of jobs at the Hotel du Pont is similar to what is happening at other hotels. "We're seeing it across our portfolio and the industry is seeing it globally," she said.


In addition to the Hotel du Pont, PM Hotel Group manages nearly 40 hotels and development projects comprising more than 9,000 rooms throughout the United States.


According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association, Delaware's hotel industry has lost 3,066 direct hotel-related jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic, and 6,695 jobs that support the hotel industry.


The Hotel du Pont is in the DuPont Building, which also is owned by Buccini/Pollin. The DECO food hall in the same building, which originally opened in April 2019, has been closed since mid-March.


Haber said the Hotel du Pont is currently not offering any dining services. 


Renovations are still ongoing at Le Cavalier, a French brasserie that Philadelphia chef/partner Tyler Akin is planning that will be replacing the Green Room fine-dining restaurant.


The space is getting new furnishings and a new look, which includes removing the faded carpeting as well as the heavy draperies that covered the windows overlooking Rodney Square.


The 125-seat dining room is scheduled to have a 14-seat bar that patrons will find to the left as they enter the room, and a new outdoor patio area.


The opening of Le Cavalier at the Green Room is "tentatively scheduled" for late summer, Haber said, but the date has not been determined or finalized


The 217-room Hotel du Pont opened in the heart of downtown Wilmington in 1913.


The Buccini/Pollin Group, a privately held real estate acquisition, development and management company, purchased the site from the DuPont Co. in 2017.


Haber said it is a challenging time for the entire hotel industry, but "recovery will come."


"As we expect business levels to come back," she said, "we will reassess the needs of the hotel."

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