Wilmington's Goober's Diner eyeing July opening


Patricia Talorico

The coronavirus might have delayed plans for a new Wilmington diner, but it hasn't stopping the building of the prefabricated structure. 

Goober's Diner is tentatively scheduled for a July opening, says Tom Hannum, a co-owner of Buckley's Tavern who will be running the casual foods restaurant off Pennsylvania Avenue.

The old-school-style diner, which is being built in Atlanta, is expected to be brought into Delaware soon.

"We're getting closer and closer to a delivery date," Hannum said.

He expects it to arrive around the first week of June. 

The two-story stainless steel diner will be located in a now-vacant lot behind the Dunkin' Donuts off North Lincoln Street. 

A house that had been on the site has been removed.

The "Great American" 1950s-style modular diner is being designed by Dinermite Diners, an Atlanta company that has been manufacturing diners for more than 50 years.

Frey-Moss, an Atlanta-based company that builds modular structures, will deliver

the diner to Wilmington, in pieces, on trailers.

Then, it will then be reassembled on site.

The project, is a new venture for Vance Kershner, president and CEO of LabWare Inc. He owns Buckley's Tavern with Tom Hannum and another partner, who is not involved in the diner project.

Hannum, the Hotel du Pont's former executive chef, said he will be running the 87-seat diner. It will not be a 24-hour diner.

Hannum said when the diner is delivered to Wilmington, it will need to be fitted into the vacant lot. Then, workers will connect lines, do some tile work and other "odds and ends," he said.

The diner was originally targeted for an opening earlier this year, but the coronavirus changed the plans.

"We're thinking sometime now in July," Hannum said. "We haven't really regrouped with the limitations" of dine-in services due to the coronavirus.

When restaurants are allowed to reopen their dining rooms on June 1, they will only be allowed to seat 30% of the building's allowed occupancy, according to new state mandates.

Goober's Diner will have mini booths and counter seats. It seats about 40 people upstairs, and 40 people on the first floor.

Hannum said the diner will have a walk-up window on Lincoln Street where customers can use their phone to pay for orders.

The menu will include comfort foods, breakfast all day and standard diner items such as chicken and salmon croquettes.

Hannum said the opening delayed until this summer actually makes better business since since no customers would have been allowed to sit down in the

diner from March 17 through June 1.

"It's better than if it had arrived a few weeks ago, and wouldn't have had any business at all," he said.

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