Once upon a time, two enterprising young adults decided to get into the food truck business.
Leigh Ann Tona was still a University of Delaware senior when she purchased a wooden food cart and started I Don’t Give a Fork.
The concept: finger food. The South Brunswick, New Jersey, native later graduated to a 25-foot-long truck.
In 2016, Zach DeLong, who grew up in Marriottsville, Maryland, turned an ice cream truck into a gourmet coffee shop on wheels.
The psychology major and circus juggler became known for combining unconventional flavors into Scission Craft Coffee’s lattes.
At festivals and events, Scission often pulled up near I Don’t Give A Fork. Sparks flew between the owners, and the entrepreneurs recently got engaged.
“Free coffee 4 life,” Tona posted on Facebook as she flashed her ring.
That’s true in more ways than one. Tona and DeLong also just opened Sleeping Bird Coffee on Miller Road in Wilmington between Wilmington Brew Works and La Pizzeria Metro.
Although the name sounds lyrical — as though written by a poet — the inspiration was the dead bird that the couple spotted when they first inspected the unused space.
“We said it was ‘sleeping,’” DeLong said.
That was in 2020. The opening was delayed due to construction and shipment issues.
During the pause, the owners reconsidered their original interior decor, which had included shelves filled with books and games.
Given the pandemic, they wanted fewer items to clean, and they realized many customers would rather grab their cup of Joe and go.
Meanwhile, DeLong parked Scission outside the shop to build a fan base.
“When they’d have the truck in the lot on the weekends, the lines would usually be 12 people deep at 9 a.m.,” said Amy Bish, who lives in the area. (The truck now has the shop’s name).Error, group does not exist! Check your syntax! (ID: 11)
The avian theme extends to the sandwiches and salad names. Bish, for instance, sampled the chickadee sandwich (smashed chickpeas, sliced red onion, sliced tomatoes and arugula with a lemon dill dressing).
The Bluebird is a riff on I Don’t Give a Fork’s Jive Turkey BLT.
“It was always really popular, but we’ve turned it up a little bit — everything’s fancier,” Tona said. The sandwich now has parmesan-peppercorn mayo.
It didn’t take long for barista baron Greg Vogeley of Drip Café to check out Sleeping Bird Coffee. He gives it a thumbs up.
“Great cappuccino and pork roll scone,” he says. (You think a New Jersey native would skip serving pork roll?)
The shop is open Tuesday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends. Those hours might change since the shop has a soft-serve ice cream machine.
“I want to utilize that in the evenings, at some point,” Tona says.
She sold I Don’t Give A Fork to Mike Stanley of Burgers by WiLDWiCH. After years of operating the truck, she was tired of being too hot, too cold or on the road to Restaurant Depot.
Besides, young people are supposed to explore new careers, she said.
“I wanted a home base, and I always said I wouldn’t open up another business without a partner,” Tona said. “So, this all fits into what I want going forward.”
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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