Emily Luther and Stacey McPherson, along with chef Brian Di Giorgi, are bringing grown-up grilled cheese to the Port City with Crust Kitchen & Cocktails at 124 Princess St.
Luther and McPherson met several years ago in Southport, where Luther was the owner/operator of Moore Street Market and McPherson and her husband operated a pop-up ice cream shop. Having both relocated to Wilmington, they began brainstorming ideas for collaborating on a restaurant.
"The grilled cheese concept was Emily's idea,” said McPherson. “And I loved it. It's such a versatile product and lends itself to some really creative ideas. Plus, who doesn't love grilled cheese?"
Crust’s menu will have an eclectic mix of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches as well as fresh-cut, Belgian-style fries, locally sourced salads, homemade soup and ice cream sandwiches for dessert.
Di Giorgi was trained in the classic French style of cooking at the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, and has worked for the Duquesne Club in Pittsburgh, The Rose Group in New York City and as executive chef at Wolfgang Puck Catering at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art.
"Our menu is in the final stages of development, and Brian has been in the test kitchen whipping up some fun and delicious recipes,” said Luther. “You’ll find standards like the Croque Monsieur, but there will also be some surprises. Our goal is to bring something to Wilmington that a lot of people haven't seen before.”
Luther and McPherson said they are working with local farmers to incorporate local produce whenever possible.
“People are paying more attention to what they are feeding their families,” said Luther. “We want to offer healthy options as well as vegan and gluten-free options.”
The bar program will be focused on tall, handcrafted cocktails prepared with fresh fruit juices and homemade syrups.
"I expect to spend a good portion of my morning juicing everything I can get my hands on, along with making my own simple syrups and grenadine," said McPherson.
124 Princess St., now under new ownership, has undergone significant renovations, including a custom built bar, new lighting, a new floor and ceiling and updated restrooms. The bright, cheery interior, as well as the music and artwork, will reflect the 1990s, Luther and McPherson’s favorite era.
“Princess Street is shaping up to be one of the most active areas downtown,” said Luther. “And we are excited to be a part of its development. There are plenty of places to eat and drink in downtown Wilmington, but we will stand out from the crowd with our innovative menus, bright décor and bright smiles. The overall vibe will be fun for everyone."
Crust will serve lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday and brunch on Sunday. A mid- to late June opening is expected.
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