New restaurant Floriana to open in historic building on downtown Wilmington’s Riverwalk
WILMINGTON — The owner of an upscale Italian bistro in Washington, D.C.’s historic Dupont Circle neighborhood will open his second location overlooking the Riverwalk in downtown Wilmington.
Floriana will be the third restaurant in the past two years to occupy the historic three-story building at the corner of Market and Water Street. For a quarter-century it was home to Roy’s Riverboat Landing until the restaurant closed in February 2018.
Floriana owner Jamie Branda brings 14 years of experience operating the restaurant in central Washington, which first opened in 1978. Branda and Chef Daniel Hlusak, who has moved to Wilmington permanently to work at the new restaurant, knew they wanted to open their second location somewhere in the South.
After looking at cities like Birmingham, Huntsville, and Chattanooga, they settled on Wilmington.
“We went downtown and I think we knew within an hour this was the right spot,” Branda said.
He said they were drawn to Wilmington’s diverse dining and craft beer scene — particularly diverse for a city not nearly as large as Washington — and to a general sense that the city was on the way up.
“It’s never just one thing; it’s a mixture of things,” Branda said. “Part of it is that the city — and you can feel it — it’s on the verge. All the construction, streets being closed for film crews. It has a look of a city that’s on the way up. And I looked at my chef and said, ‘We need to get in here now before it’s too late.’”
He was also drawn to the historic charm of the building, which has small wrought-iron balconies overlooking the river. It reminded him of the Washington location, built just after the Civil War by a former military officer.