A Community Café

Folks Café focuses on house-roasted coffee and good company


Opening a restaurant may seem like an extreme way to meet friends and become a part of the community, but that is exactly what TAMMY and JUAN PACINI did. Just forty-five days after moving to Wilmington in 2009, they opened Folks Café and immediately established themselves as a local favorite.

“Folks was perfect for us. We came to a big state with no friends, and we didn’t know anyone around here, so this new place was our ticket to getting to know the community,” Tammy Pacini says.

Originally from Ecuador, Tammy Pacini and her husband, Juan, who is originally from Argentina, lived in California for thirty years before coming east to Wilmington.

The Pacinis have welcomed the change of pace and spirit of community that Wilmington offers.

“Such a feeling of change from California to here. There was no community, everyone was just living their life, doing their own thing there. It’s completely different here,” Tammy Pacini says. “It is nothing like that with Folks. We were just at the right place at the right time.”

Empanadas are the house specialty at the café at 1201 Princess Street, as well as the small-batch, house-roasted coffee.

Juan Pacini does the cooking, so he likes to add South American flair, as well as some Italian specialties since he grew up with his Italian parents. The Pacinis are impressed by the curiosity and enthusiasm their customers have for new and different foods.

“Our food is amazingly delicious; people love it. They are always so curious about the meals. It is awesome,” Tammy Pacini says. “The like to learn the South American recipes.”

She says her customers have become more like family, even helping in the café when Juan was ill last year.

“We have the best customers ever. They are really just so nice. When my husband got sick last year, people started working behind the counter to help, roasting the coffee, cleaning up. They are just amazing,” Tammy Pacini says.

The camaraderie of Folks Café has slowed a bit during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it also offered an opportunity to grow the business outdoors. Juan Pacini built a gazebo and landscaped the café’s extended backyard area to allow for more seating.

“It has been really, really slow, but at the same time, it gave Juan the chance to build this really nice backyard area where everybody can come with their chairs and keep their social distance, but everyone can still be here,” Tammy Pacini says.

The new backyard has allowed the Spanish Meet Up Club to continue its weekly gatherings each Saturday at Folks Café where Tammy Pacini says, “It’s the best way to end a week.”

Although Tammy and Juan are ready to “get back to a regular, old agenda,” they are not anxious for the business to grow into other locations or get much bigger than they are now.

“Maybe it sounds weird, but we do not want to grow,” Tammy Pacini says. “We have a nice group of people who come here, and we have friends, and we have a good time.”


Categories: Taste