Some pastimes just fade away, to resurface only with the smirk of irony. Like so many other endeavors, duckpin bowling has been a casualty of the fundamental change in how Americans choose to spend their leisure time.The New York Times
The classic game of duckpin bowling is back, and it has a fresh face.
Cohere found no shortage of historic and narrative elements to tap into when crafting a brand vision for our latest project with the Buccini/Pollin Group in downtown Wilmington, Delaware. A 5,700 square-foot space has been transformed into a full-scale duckpin bowling alley and pinball arcade with a lively yet casual food and drink menu.
The previous occupant, the Ernest & Scott Taproom had been named after Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, two writers who were infamous for their personalities and local presence. Legend has it that the the authors got into a brawl outside the train station down the hill on Market Street in Wilmington – maybe over grammar, probably over a woman. Other research into the history found there had been several attempted robberies from the original bank building itself. Inspired by this rambunctious and character-driven premise, we wanted to craft a character of our own to bring the new concept to life – Wilma’s.
Wilma’s was born from pride in Wilmington, and the desire to bring a fresh take on a classic game to Delaware’s capital. Working with the stellar teams at Buccini/Pollin Group and PI.KL Studio, Cohere quickly realized that there were many layers to the notion of personifying the character of the city in this brand. BPG has been dedicated to redevelopment in Wilmington for decades now, and Wilma’s is just the latest piece of that puzzle.
Downtown residents and visitors alike have continually requested more things to do in Wilmington that are not solely focused on food and alcohol. While we certainly support the thriving culinary scene in Wilmington, we believe Wilma’s will strike the perfect balance between recreation and dining, no pun intended.Rich Snyder, Director of Food and Beverage, Buccini/Pollin Group
Wilma's got Personality
Wilma’s personality is not static. Working in tandem with our brand narrative and inspiration, PI.KL has beautifully designed the space to mimic the many moods of Wilma as a character, bringing to life a multi-layered experience that merges bowling, arcade, bar, and more upscale dining space.
Enter the space, and you’re greeted with a low, cozy, dark, and boisterous duckpin bowling alley. Custom brand graphics and captivating illustrations of Wilma herself overlook the main game area, and messaging begs you to just play. It’s rambunctious, but refined.
Step into the other half of the former bank lobby space, and you’re greeted with a more elevated and upscale take on Wilma’s personality: soaring ceilings and massive windows, and plenty of seating options to enjoy food and beverage while people watching from all angles. Cajun-inspired snacks and entrees complete the experience, offering food that’s casual and fun but done really well.
To connect the entire space, PI.KL took advantage of the already-established mezzanine level, pushing it to new heights and imagining an interactive arcade area that overlooks the entire concept. The end goal was to give each visitor a unique perspective no matter where they decided to perch themselves – all focused around the unique game of duckpin bowling.
But who is Wilma?
We asked ourselves how to bring the spirit of a mischievous character to life, based on the idea of bank robbing and the daring heists of the early 1900’s. We needed a character suitable for the quirkiness of the beloved duckpin game concept and the grand nature of the building itself.
Who is Wilma? On the surface, she’s unassuming and well-mannered. But behind that innocent guise lives a criminal mastermind. This bar is a personification of her. Inside the elegant, grand exterior, you’ll find an atmosphere that’ll make you want to let loose. Duckpin bowling and retro arcade games, overflowing drinks, and dangerously good times—it’s all waiting for you at Wilma’s.
Dangerously Good Times
Historic bank turned boozy hangout, Wilma’s is the new stomping ground for Wilmington’s trouble makers. Back in the ‘20s, this building was better known as the Delaware Trust. Now, it’s taken on a life of recreation. High-tail it over here for a midday break or a game of duckpin bowling. Whatever you’re running from, we’ll be waiting with delicious drinks and good times.
She's Part of the Family
Wilma’s joins the string of successful developments the Buccini/Pollin Group have dedicated themselves to in Delaware’s capital city. BPG is truly bringing to life a Market Street renaissance through other projects like 101 dupont place in the Hotel DuPont, The Cooper, and other commercial ventures like the DE.CO food hall, Maker’s Alley beer garden, Stitch House brewery, The Queen Theatre, and Italian restaurant Bardea – a favorite of President Joe Biden. It’s this dedication to building a critical mass of activity in Wilmington that makes the work with BPG so meaningful.
Wilma’s adds a duckpin bowling alley to the mix of an already evolving and dynamic downtown, putting Wilmington on the short list of cities that have one of these unique alleys for locals and visitors to enjoy. We’ll drink to that.