First Friday set to bloom with several new eateries on way to downtown Dover

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DOVER — The flowers are in full bloom, and the pace is about to pick up in downtown Dover, as First Friday activities are set to return this week, bringing extended shopping hours, free seed projects, food samples and, as always, buskers performing in front of businesses.

The Downtown Dover Partnership also announced that at least five new businesses — all restaurants — will be opening on or adjacent to Loockerman Street within the next six months.

Three of them will be participating in First Friday events, including Rebel Cove at 33 W. Loockerman St., which will have food available to purchase from 5-8 p.m.

Pineapple Kale, which will be offering smoothies and yoga upon its opening in downtown Dover, and an upcoming authentic Coney Island hot dog and hamburger shop, which will also offer full breakfast, will also have food available to sample and buy Friday.

The other two restaurants expected in downtown Dover this year have yet to be named.

City Planner Dave Hugg said, “The DDP and the city work closely to prospect for key categories of businesses for downtown, and eateries such as these are a high priority and a big win for the city’s central business district.”

This week’s First Friday, returning to Dover after a four-month hiatus, is being billed as “Everything’s Blooming Downtown.” The DDP has preparations underway for an enjoyable evening of shopping, dining, taste-testing, crafting, music and even “mini-theater” Friday. Two Delaware State Police mounted patrols will be on hand, so community members can meet the horses and chat with the officers.

Diane Laird, executive director of the DDP, believes the community will also enjoy seeing the launch of the merchant window-decorating contest on First Friday.

“I consider our business district’s outstanding shop windows to actually be tiny theaters, and people rarely stop to appreciate the care taken in creating them,” Ms. Laird said. “Most of us live a hurried lifestyle.

“But taking a few minutes to peer closely into these colorful mini-theaters, window-shoppers will not only see products for sale but the ‘Everything’s Blooming’ theme depicted with great imagination, whimsy and vibrancy, bringing about a far richer experience than if walking by at our normal quicker pace.”

She noted that merchant windows will also include a page from the storybook “Bloom” by Deborah Diesen to support the event’s theme. This “StoryWalk” was coordinated with Rosie Mujica and Susan Elizabeth Cordle, who oversee Youth Services at the Dover Public Library. For details, visit here.

A “make a flower or plant a seed” project for mom, sponsored by United Church, will be available outside of the CenDel Building at 101 W. Loockerman St.

Visitors of all ages can participate and will be provided with seeds, soil and containers to plant flowers or herbs to take to their home gardens, or they can choose to make giant tissue paper flowers with materials provided on-site. In addition, a variety of seed packets, free of charge, may be found at participating shops during the First Friday hours of 5-8 p.m.

Carla Wilson, overseer of the DDP’s Downtown Dover Ambassador Program, said six to eight ambassadors will be welcoming shoppers throughout the area Friday night.

“We’ve chosen to support the ‘Bloom’ theme by (providing) long-stemmed flowers to people that come to enjoy the music and celebrate being outdoors after a pretty long winter,” Ms. Wilson said. “Between our flowers, the windows and the giant tissue paper flowers, there will be a lot of color and fun.”

Music will also be in the air at First Friday.

Paul Donovan, a singer-songwriter and guitarist, will be playing covers and originals that span multiple decades of music near Loockerman Way Plaza.

Other musical buskers will be indoors and outside of shops, including saxophonist Grady O’Connor at The House of Coffi; guitarist-singer Mike Miller at My Roots; Jim McGriffin, Kathy Doyle and Stu Welch at Park Green Galleries and the Delaware Store; Mollie Raley Hall at Sozo; and keyboardist Samuel Mace, accompanied by singer Rashawn King, at Zuha Trend.

Other stores that will be open late include Tina’s Timeless Threads and Forney’s Too Ltd.

To “unlock value downtown,” Ms. Laird said that shoppers should remember to bring or request their Capital Key card for promotions at their favorite stores (visit here for more information). Keys may also be picked up at participating shops.

All First Friday activities will be spaced appropriately, and participants are asked to support social distancing and observe COVID-19 precautions.