Delicious things come to those who wait.
Sleeping Bird Coffee Co. opens its new shop on Miller Road in Wilmington on Tuesday, May 18.
The food-truck-turned-shop offers regular drip coffee, as well as regular and decaf espresso drinks. Plus, there’s a food menu of breakfast sandwiches, baked goods and lunch items.
And Sleeping Bird wants to be more than your spot for a regular cup of joe. One rare find is under the non-dairy options: macadamia nut milk. Another? The soft-serve machine which is perfect for the summer crowds. The shop uses its own ice cream base creation, too.
Sleeping Bird was the brainchild of co-owner Zack DeLong. Four years ago, he was a barista at another shop with a dream of a simple coffee cart. Looking at his options, a truck wasn’t much more expensive than a cart and there just so happened to be the perfect one on Craigslist for sale.
“It was exactly what I needed,” DeLong says. “It was one of those things like, right place, right time.”
Through various food truck events, he met Leigh Ann Tona, now his partner and co-owner of Sleeping Bird Coffee. DeLong says Tona was a big part of Sleeping Bird’s move to brick and mortar, pushing them to take the next step.
When they found the space in 2019, the landlord just so happened to have a coffee shop in mind as the new tenant. They officially sign the lease in September 2020.
“We didn’t want to just open anywhere for the sake of opening,” Tona says. “We weren’t super nervous about opening here. It’s a good neighborhood spot and there’s no other coffee in the area.”
Tona has her own experience in the food truck world. She started I Don’t Give a Fork in 2014, which served foods like chicken fingers, burgers and cheesesteaks. She attended hundreds of events with her truck, including Firefly Music Festival.
IDGAFork’s last day of business has come and gone, so Tona can focus on the coffee shop. She says Sleeping Bird has a different, lighter vibe, so creating menu items was a challenge at first.
Many of the sandwiches and salads were created entirely by the owners with the help of chefs at Gordon Food Service’s test kitchen. Tona says it was a lot of trial and error, but good ideas came to be, like putting pimento cheese spread on sourdough bread with turkey which they now call the Eagle sandwich.
Nearly everything on the menu is made fresh and from scratch. Even the names on the menu are on brand with sandwiches like the Sparrow made with brie, bacon, peanut butter and fig jam on cinnamon bread, or salads like the Cardinal, made with baked chicken, toasted pecans, goat cheese, diced apples and lemon dill dressing.
And then there’s the coffee. DeLong says he is particularly excited to work with the new espresso machine. His options in the truck were limited, but the new machine is automatic and can pull multiple shots at once and steam two drinks at the same time, with room to let two baristas make drinks side by side.
“It’s very exciting for the coffee nerd in me,” DeLong says. “Finally getting us this much nicer machine is very exciting.”
Sleeping Bird has a team of 10 including Tona and DeLong. Despite the wait for an official start date, two baristas, two kitchen staff members and four cashiers were hired several weeks ago and stuck around.
“Since then, we’ve even gotten a bunch of emails from people just wanting to work here since they see that we’re opening,” Tona says.
The shop’s hours of operation are Tuesday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. They’re currently designating Mondays as their rest day, but Tona says as the business grows, they’ll eventually be open seven days a week with longer hours.
“We do want to be open on Mondays at some point,” Tona says. “It’s going to be when Zach and I don’t feel we need to be here every day anymore.”
It isn’t the end for the truck either. DeLong and Tona are putting it to rest for a few months to focus on the shop but will start taking it out once the shop gets rolling and they find a trustworthy driver.
With the shop and truck operational, DeLong says customers can expect more of the same great coffee and pastries without any sold out signs.
Sleeping Bird Coffee Co.
3111 Miller Road, Wilmington