@VALUEZTV AM EDITION
Tonic Bar & Grille in downtown Wilmington has increased its space, redesigned the dining rooms, revamped its menu and tweaked its name.
Owners of the 11th Street business also purchased the former Movable Feast café and another building at 2510 W. Fifth St. about two months ago.
Construction has started on those buildings and the outdoor space. The plan is to reopen the site as Park Cafe, a play on the nearby Wawaset Park community, by late summer.
The building on West Fifth Street also will house Tonic's catering facilities and the restaurant's corporate offices. Tonic is the preferred caterer for many local businesses including The Queen, Delaware Center for Horticulture and Delaware Art Museum.
Tonic owners Chris Blackwell, who runs the Newark commercial contracting businesses Specialty Finishes and Jamestown Painting, and longtime restaurateur Paul Bouchard began renovating Tonic Bar & Grille at 111 W. 11th St. in March.
Bouchard said renovations were originally scheduled to take place later this summer, but they moved up the date after Delaware restaurants were forced by Gov. John Carney to close dining rooms on March 16 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Bouchard said Tonic reopened for takeout services, while the interior of the building was renovated. Customers can now make reservations at the restaurant, which is following limited dine-in restrictions as mandated by the state.
Tonic also has expanded its footprint and now occupies the entire block of 11th Street between Tatnall and Orange streets.
Bouchard said they took over the former Wilmington offices of the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, previously next door to the restaurant. The space had been vacant since the organization moved to the nearby Community Service Building on 10th Street in February 2018.
At Tonic and the vacant site, walls were knocked out and replaced with folding doors. Bouchard said customers will be able to stand inside the restaurant near Tatnall Street and see all the way down to Orange Street.
The restaurant will have private rooms including a "boardroom" for 18 people and another room for parties and wedding receptions for up to 150.
The biggest changes are to the dining rooms.
The bar has a new blue concrete top and has been repositioned and angled so it's now more comfortable. The room has folding accordion windows that connect the space to the outdoor patio seating and create an open, airy feeling. A host stand and former coat closet are gone, and will soon be replaced with a glass wine wall.
Montchanin interior designer Megan Gorelick helped select new flooring, furniture and lighting. Wallpaper in different textures – one wall has a snakeskin print, while another has a basket-weave design – further create a sleek look.
Bouchard said Tonic is now "a 180-degree" turn from its former design. He said "before it felt masculine and focused on steaks and burgers, and now there's a more modern flair."
Executive chef Patrick Bradley, who temporarily left the restaurant, returned in December and will unveil a new menu this summer focused more on seafood and seasonal produce. The restaurant will be renamed Tonic Seafood & Steak to reflect the new cuisine.
Former Hotel du Pont executive pastry chef Michele Mitchell has been consulting with the restaurant to improve its bread and desserts. Mitchell has held pastry and dessert demonstration classes at Tonic.
Jim Magner of Specialty Finishes said the former Movable Feast café is undergoing a major overhaul. The interior has been gutted and the kitchen equipment is being replaced. He said refurbishing the outside space includes installing a natural stone wall, an outdoor gazebo and a new patio.
Landscaping should come by the middle of July, he said.