When Chris DiLoreto opened his sandwich shop in downtown Tacoma in 2012, it was a 300-square-foot cubbyhole.
DiLoreto’s Downtown Cafe had 11 seats. It was mostly takeout. As DiLoreto put it, “If you had four to five people, you thought the place was jumping.”
Eventually, he and co-owner/wife Jen DiLoreto expanded to 25 seats, added antique signs from neighboring Sanford and Son Antiques and polished the interior.
DiLoreto’s is about to expand again. The restaurant closed last week and will move about a half a block to a corner space at South Ninth and Commerce streets in a storefront recently vacated by Commerce Teriyaki. When it moves, it will be called DiLoreto’s.
It’s a bittersweet move for the DiLoretos. The couple met at the restaurant when Jen happened to visit while doing some work in the building. They married in 2013 and had the ceremony at the cafe.
“We got married here, and this is where we met. It’s a little emotional thing for us. It was a tough decision, but the right decision,” she said.
The new space won’t give them more seats, but it does come with a much more visible corner location and a larger kitchen that will allow more flexibility. “We can expand our menu down the road,” said Jen.
For now, they’ll stick with the same menu of about 20 baked and grilled sandwiches, East Coast style subs, deli sandwiches, housemade soups and salads. The fork-and-knife chili dog with housemade black bean chili? It stays, too. They’ll continue serving coffee roasted by Tacoma company Manifesto (a newer coffee roaster in the Hilltop), and they’ll still make their sandwiches with bread from Tacoma’s Baker Boys.
Their most popular menu item is the baked Italian, said Jen. I’m partial to their BLT.
The house-based desserts will be something Jen can expand with the new kitchen. She’ll continue baking her brick brownies (named for their size) and hand decorated sugar cookies.
Their plan is to keep serving lunch, but they might eventually expand hours beyond 10 a.m.-4 p.m. after opening in the space and gauging the traffic and interest. They’ll decorate the restaurant with a similar charming black-and-white motif.
Demolition began Monday, and if all goes as planned, they expect to open in March.
Where: 786 Commerce St., Tacoma; facebook.com/DiLoretos.
Opening: Projected for March, if construction goes as planned.