CHICKY'S PIZZA PUB
The karaoke crowd gathers on Thursday. Friday, they come for DJ night. On Saturdays, it’s live music, like the regular last-Saturday-of-the-month gig by Dickens and Ballsworth (apparently their real names, but even knowing that, you still want to check out their Facebook link, don't you?). If you’ve driven by, you know Chicky’s Pizza Pub packs the room when there’s something going on, but the wings enough are a reason to visit. We chatted with first-time restaurant owners Martin and Mary Ellen Craig about the past and future of their spot at 201 North Market.
Martin: We found an old photograph of the building, in an advertisement from when they were installing electric lights in the city, back in 1882. There were bars on the windows. So originally, this was a bank, and there's still part of the vault in the basement, and the elevator system where they used to take the gold bars and silver up and down.
Mary Ellen: We opened a year ago. We were never in the restaurant business before. He was an accountant and I was in purchasing.
Martin: It's our retirement project.
Mary Ellen: Yeah, our retirement project. We believe in building up Market Street in Wilmington. There's a lot of promise on Market and we just we want to be part of it.
Martin: The average age of the clientele is probably 38 or 40. We're trying to build an all-inclusive, comfortable atmosphere for people, like a Cheers. The regulars are all friendly.
Mary Ellen: We wanted fresh food. We wanted it made to order, and we wanted food baked so that it wasn't greasy.
Martin: We try to keep it as healthy as possible for pub food. Wings are probably what we're best known for. And the pizzas. We have signature pizzas and allow people to build their own. We have very good salads and some interesting appetizers – but the wings… they’re banging. I don't think anyone else is making them the way we do, We brine them before they're baked, in red pepper and vinegar and some other spices, so even if you order them with no sauce, they're still hot.
Mary Ellen: It’s hard work. You know, when you close your eyes at night, you fall right to sleep. But it's also very rewarding, serving the public and it's very nice when they tell you how good your food is.
Martin: Our hope is to get a team in there that will enable us to still stay active in our retirement but not require our full attention 24 hours a day, seven days a week. At some point, assuming we are successful …
Mary Ellen: … we'd like to semi-retire …
Martin: … and allow some of our employees to actually own a piece of it.
Mary Ellen: But in the meantime, maybe it'll keep us young.