Where Pigs Fly sticks a fork in it after 26 years

Where Pigs Fly in Dover will be closing on Saturday after 26 1/2 years in business. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — There’s just two precious days left to savor the signature hickory smoked pulled pork barbecue at Where Pigs Fly.

The family-owned restaurant with the iconic sign at 617 East Loockerman Street is closing permanently when the food runs out Saturday.

Husband and wife owners Tom and Kelly Devine announced the closure on Facebook Wednesday and the community outpouring hasn’t slowed down since.

Dozens of text messages arrived on Mrs. Devine’s phone almost immediately, and regular customers flocked in all day Thursday.

“A lot of friends are asking me if I’m OK as if I’m dying or sick,” she said during an afternoon lull that followed following a lunch rush.

“Well I’m fine, I’m great, this is my decision, it’s just time.

Following a lunch rush, Where Pigs Fly owners Kelly and Tom Devine take a quick break inside their restaurant Thursday afternoon. (Delaware State News/Craig Anderson)

“So many people are sad and I don’t want them to be sad. I want them to enjoy the memories that they made here.

“God has blessed me with 26 1/2 years of a wonderful experience that’s involved a lot work, but in all those years I never said to myself ‘Oh I really don’t want to go in today,’

“It’s hard to run a small business, it takes a lot of energy and perseverance. If there weren’t some great rewards that came with that I never would have stayed in it that long.

Tina Bradbury, left, takes a selfie with her friend Brynn Voshell after eating at Where Pigs Fly for the last time Thursday afternoon. (Delaware State News/Craig Anderson)

“This town loves its chains (restaurants) but somehow by the grace of God we made it this long. We’ve worked hard and it’s time to enjoy our lives doing something else.”

Mrs. Devine has overseen daily operations since the opening on April 19, 1993, and she wants some time to visit her mother, reconnect with friends, see more of her husband and go to the beach.

“I’ve been busy all my life,” she said. “I just want time to do whatever I want to do when I want to do it. I don’t want to live through my datebook anymore.”

Emphasizing her appreciation of customers, Mrs. Devine said, “Every time they came here with their hard-earned money to eat they paid us a compliment.”

Manager Brian McDaniel said he was grateful to the Devines and fortunate to have met so many folks at the restaurant since 2011. Mrs. Devine said she would do anything possible to help employees find other jobs when the doors close.

A regular customer since childhood, Tina Bradbury left the restaurant for the final time clutching a quart of broccoli salad.

“This has been a staple of Dover and to know it’s closing means a part of the nostalgia here is gone,” she said. “You know the sign, you know the smell. It’s just a landmark location that has been a part of culture here for a long, long time.”

Joe Frear saluted Where Pigs Fly for it’s “old fashioned vibe and interior that made me feel like I was traveling back in time.”

Father and son Kevin Jr. and Kevin Sr. Minnich didn’t mind spending two hours at lunch Thursday. The unusual surge of patrons threw off all the restaurant’s typical preparations.

“It normally takes 30 minutes from the time you walk in to when you leave,” Kevin Sr. “They ran out of food so everything took a lot longer, which was fine with us.”

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