The BnL to make comeback in downtown Dover

Domonique Williams, owner of The BnL, plans to reopen the artsy sandwich/café on 212 South Governors Ave in Dover in mid-April after renovations are complete.
(Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — After briefly considering moving to Wilmington or the beach, The BnL (Brunch n Lunch) owner Domonique Williams decided to reopen his downtown Dover eatery about a block from its former location. The comeback of the artsy sandwich shop and cafe is slated for mid-April.

“Dover is really where I’ve always wanted to be,” he said. “I live here in downtown in the mix of it. I believe in the direction downtown is going. It’s different from when I first moved here for school over a decade ago. They’re really pushing to get restaurants, retail and parking. It’s a process and we’re all frustrated with how long things take sometimes, but I do definitely think it’s headed in the right direction.”

Mr. Williams originally opened The BnL on 25 W. Loockerman St. in Dover back in 2015. After running it for almost three years, he says he began to outgrow the space.

“Business was great,” he said. “It was hard when I first started out because my inexperience made the learning curve pretty steep. Also, we had 33 West (Ale House & Grill) right up the block that’s been there for 10 years, and Grey Fox (Grille and Public House) with an experienced owner right around the corner — so competition was tough. We needed to work with a new demographic and create a whole new business area downtown. Sunday business, which hardly existed at the time, was the leap we took. It ended up being our busiest day. We were getting a really good response, but we needed some more space and the location was suffering from a few maintenance issues.”

He shuttered the restaurant back in October 2017, with the promise to his customers that he’s soon make a return.

“We’d actually been in the process of moving across the street to one of the vacant storefronts there, but once that deal fell through, we had to start the search for a new location over again,” he said.

A few months ago, Mr. Williams said he’d begun talking to the owner of The Sandwich Nook on 212 S Governors Ave. in Dover. When he found out the owner was interested in selling the business, Mr. Williams jumped on the opportunity.

“It’s a great new location because it’s almost double the space of the last one — over there we had about 800 square feet, but here we’re working with around 1,500,” said Mr. Williams.

Though there is plenty of work to do before the reopening in April, aesthetically, The BnL will be pretty much the same, he said.

“We’re going to try to make it look a lot like the last BnL was with the big wooden bar and the register in the same place — we’re getting started right back where we left off,” Mr. Williams said.

The menu will be a mix of old and new. He’ll be keeping many of his patrons’ favorites like chicken and waffles and the Piggy Mac Ride burger, but introducing some new things along the way too.

“Our burger menu will be the same and our brunch menu will stay the same, but we’re planning an extended vegan menu and also some cool plated dinner things on Sunday,” said Mr. Williams. “The older stuff will come back, but we’ll introduce new things too like we always have. The menu with change two to three times per year.”

The BnL as a haven for the arts is another thing that’s not changing, said Mr. Williams. The BnL will continue to act as a quasi art gallery/music venue in its new location.

“We’re trying to expand our art program,” he added. “We’ve always been really dedicated to using our space as an outlet for the creative people in the city. We’re still looking to sell the art off the walls and give the artists 100 percent commission. We’ve got a lot of new art and music coming, but we’re also hoping to do community-based things like having speakers or a financial literacy class on Monday nights.”

Planning to open his doors in mid-April, Mr. Williams said he’d be expanding The BnL’s hours to seven days per week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. except on Saturday and Sunday when they’d open at 10 a.m. For updates on the opening, visit @TheBnL on Facebook.

Did we miss something? Let us know about local business happenings by contacting staff writer Ian Gronau at 741-8272 or newsroom@newszap.com.

Reach the Delaware State News newsroom at newsroom@newszap.com

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