Wilmington’s Girard & Faire Vows to Bounce Back Following Downtown Riot

Courtesy of Rob Snowberger

The liquor store and café were already planning major changes—but with community support, the shops are more motivated than ever to reopen.

The team behind downtown Wilmington’s Girard Craft & Cork and Faire Market & Cafe was deep into planning the stores’ new design and concept.

Then, a peaceful protest on May 30 calling for justice in the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police was overtaken by a riot. Multiple businesses downtown saw damage to property and were looted, including Girard & Faire.

“Those two got hit pretty hard,” says owner Rob Snowberger, who estimates about $100,000 in damages to his liquor store and $20,000 to the market and café.

Before the destruction began on May 30, Snowberger was setting up another one of his businesses, Stitch House Brewery, at 829 N. Market St., because he wanted to have a presence in the building in case the protest turned violent. While neighboring restaurants and shops had windows broken and goods stolen, Snowberger thinks Stitch House was possibly spared because people were occupying the space.

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He also hoped Girard would be safe because of its inconspicuous alleyway location off of North Orange Street.

However, as Wilmington Police ushered rioters off Market Street, they ran down side streets. Snowberger says he looked out the back window of Stitch House and saw rioters pointing and running toward Girard’s entrance.

As an essential business, Girard remained open during the COVID-19 shutdown while Faire closed. Snowberger and his team were using the time to renovate the space, which is separated from the liquor store by a hallway and glass wall.

Inside, rioters smashed glass refrigerator doors, stole almost every alcoholic beverage and some food from shelves, and splashed ketchup on the walls.

Courtesy of Rob Snowberger

Snowberger spent this week assessing lost inventory and filing reports with insurance. But the situation had a silver lining, he says. The next morning, community members came out to help clean up by sweeping up glass and helping tidy up. The city of Wilmington also assisted damaged businesses by helping board up broken windows and cleaning up the streets.

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“It was a very nice sign of the community supporting us,” he says.

A high school friend of Snowberger’s also created a GoFundMe for the shop to help cover damages. As of Thursday, June 4, the “GoFundMe for Locally Owned Wilmington, DE business” had surpassed its goal of $10,000.

With all the support, Snowberger says he has no plans to close Girard & Faire.

Faire’s new concept and design—the latter of which is the vision of creative director Dallas Shaw—will transform it from a stark café and market to a relaxed, fast-casual restaurant (think wicker and rattan furniture, dried floral accents and bold lighting) offering dinner and cocktails.

Courtesy of Rob Snowberger

“[It will be] so much more inviting,” Shaw says, noting that the café will also cater to the community’s need for a downtown space that could host small events. Faire’s upstairs will available for private events and happy hours; a large communal table downstairs can accommodate dinner events.

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Phase one and two guidelines from the state of Delaware aren’t affecting the new design, Shaw adds, and when Faire reopens, they will adhere to any rules in place at that time.

While reopening dates for both Faire and Girard have been pushed into the late summer and early fall, Snowberger says there’s no doubt the community wants both to come back even stronger.

“We want to reopen,” he says.

For more information, visit girardfaire.com.

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