110 S. Front St.
Afew different signs have graced the ivy-covered corner at 110 South Front Street over the years. Replacing The Olive Tree and ringing in 2011 is a brand new restaurant that mixes a Connecticut family business-tradition with Mediterranean-style deli dishes.
The doors opened on December 8th and already downtown is feeling the difference. Owner Carey Way and her general manager Ron Suriano bring years of business savvy and an upscale approach to lunch into the new venture, The Wayfarer. To find out the origins of this unique restaurant model, encore sat down with Way, a businesswoman with an international résumé and a homegrown inspiration who designed the deli’s slogan: “Locally owned and internationally inspired.”
e: Tell us about the deli that your family had while you were growing up.
Carey Way: We lived in a town called Newington, Connecticut, and it was actually a bakery and deli. The bakery was part of a franchise, but my mother built the deli part herself, and it ended up growing like crazy. All through high school, that was my life, watching and learning from her. I grew up in this business.
e: Did you take over the business later?
CW: No, I ended up moving to Switzerland and owning my own English-speaking school there. It was a really interesting experience, but, eventually, I wanted to be with my family again. So I moved back to the states.
e: So how did you end up in Wilmington?
CW: My parents had retired down here, so all of us siblings ended up following them. My brother opened up a heating and air business here, and I worked for Mutual of Omaha for a little while. Both of my parents are deceased now so opening up this deli was really a tribute to my mom and what she did with the restaurant up there.
e: How did you meet Ron, your manager?
CW: At Mutual of Omaha, my job was to recruit salespeople. He worked for Land Rover, and I pulled him over to work for us for a little while. He didn’t stay long and, eventually, he went back to Land Rover, but we stayed friends. When I decided to start a business, he was the first person I thought of, and I contacted him about it right away. He does all of the accounting and marketing for the deli; I don’t know what I would do without him!
e: What kind of food does the Wayfarer serve?
CW: It’s basic deli selections but we keep things more upscale and with a Mediterranean feel. We have our empanadas, which are really popular, and we serve a lot of our sandwiches on ciabatta bread.
e: Do you have a dish you’re particularly proud of?
CW: Well, we roast our own roast beef. We also have something called an “Omaha,” which is covered with caramelized onions; people really like that one. There is a “grown-up grilled cheese” with Havarti, fontina and other cheeses, and a beef on weck.
e: What kind of an atmosphere could one find in the Wayfarer?
CW: It’s very warm, cozy and friendly in here. That was really important to us getting started. We want people to feel welcomed, and that this is their neighborhood deli.
e: Do you have a New Year’s resolution for the deli?
CW: Yes, to serve good food and good vibes!