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Vintage Burger King Discovered Behind Wall in Wilmington’s Concord Mall

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The Burger King in Delaware’s oldest mall closed more than a decade ago, but shoppers and social media users were shocked this week to find that the empty restaurant and vintage aesthetic had been kept behind a wall the entire time.

Based on a photo of the space in Wilmington’s Concord Mall posted to social media, it would almost feel like stepping into a time machine when you walk into the restaurant. It opened in 1987 and closed in 2009, Delaware Online reports.

The restaurant’s wooden booths, mauve seat cushions and geometric wall patterns that were once so ubiquitous in fast-food restaurants across the country will be a rarity by 2022.

The mall’s general manager, Tom Dahlke, is currently in the process of leasing the space. The kitchen and layout can come in handy for a new restorer.

He didn’t think much of the Burger King when he first investigated it in 2020 after the mall was sold to his employer Namdar Realty Group, but now he’s getting calls about it from reporters across the country.

At a time when many malls in the region and country are struggling to retain customers and tenants, he hopes interest in the old restaurant can be turned into a renaissance for the Concord.

First opened in 1968, it has long been a destination for New Jersey and Pennsylvania residents who want to take advantage of Delaware’s duty-free shopping.

But as new malls opened nearby over the years — including the Christiana Mall, the largest and busiest in Delaware — vacancy rates in the Concord grew.

With foreclosure looming in January 2020, Allied Properties sold the mall to Namdar, which specializes in rehabilitating struggling malls.

The company has been successful. Dahlke told Delaware Online that he has signed a dozen new tenants so far this year. Six are coming from the Tri-State Mall in nearby Claymont, which will be demolished and replaced with a warehouse.

The Dover Mall, the largest in Downstate Delaware, has also struggled in recent years. But the city and the shopkeepers approach it differently.

Dover City Council redesigned the shopping center last year so that the empty stores can also be used as warehouse space. It was then 12% empty.

The mall’s Macy’s had already been closed by the company and converted into a fulfillment center in 2020.

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