Bodega brings inclusivity to the forefront
JESSICA and RYAN HORNE are as warm and welcoming as the aroma of freshly baked bread in their inviting market, Bodega, in the South Front District. Their personalities infuse this historic and inclusive space offering a balance of both essentials and eccentricity.
Ryan Horne, who is a native of North Carolina, and Jessica Horne, who is Puerto Rican and from Brooklyn, met at East Carolina University and moved to Wilmington in 2001. The couple has two children, Willow Ann, 12, and Easton, 9, and are dedicated to teaching them to celebrate their diversity and those of others.
A “healthy mid-life crisis” helped to develop a space with the couple’s mission to create a family-friendly environment that provides jobs and a place for people of all backgrounds and persuasions to come and feel comfortable.
“We wanted to create a space where people can come just as they are, be treated well, and enjoy life. We celebrate and live out diversity in our own lives as examples to our children and teach them to ‘put people first,’” the Hornes explain.
The Bodega is the result of the couple’s vision of a “hybrid” that has the feel of a farmer’s market, providing produce, good coffee, and sweet treats with the addition of a bottle shop component.
“Our passion for architectural salvage and giving old places new life is what drove us to renovate 1222 S. Third St. after years of disrepair,” the Hornes share. “When we bought the property, we had no plans to redevelop/restore or starting a market. We saw a need for food in the area and thought it was the one thing missing.”
The Bodega breathes new life into the building, built in 1915, that had been a speakeasy in the 1920s prohibition era.
“We wanted to create a place that is welcoming but with a vintage edge. We are believers and supporters of second and third chances. Our own lives are examples of restoration,” Ryan Horne explains.
The Hornes used the building’s original materials, along with reclaimed wood and salvaged materials from across the state. Every piece they used in the restoration “has a story.”
The Hornes renovated and opened The Bodega as a family business with the hopes of “adding to the creative community” within the South Front District. The Bodega carries local goods in order to provide an outlet for local artisans.
“Our community is full of talented creative artisans, and we wanted Bodega to be a boutique space where they could offer their craft/creations to the community without a lot of red tape and high barrier to entry like corporate retail,” Ryan Horne says.
The Bodega offers live music and food trucks regularly, local beers on tap, as well as wine on tap, and a variety of canned beers. Their large backyard with a grilling pavilion serves as a host for birthday parties, nonprofit events, open-mic nights, poetry and book readings/groups, and more.
“Our backyard and grilling space are available to host for pretty much any event or gathering in our community for a small fee,” Jessica Horne explains.
Jessica and Ryan Horne are proud to complement the growing South Front District
“The area has such a creative vibe; it just feels organic. There are some amazing businesses run by very interesting personalities down in SoFro,” Ryan Horne says. “You can just feel the love and sweat equity that went into creating the community.”
To view more of photographer Michael Cline Spencer’s work, go to michaelclinephoto.com.
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