Beloved Hockessin store closing after more than 40 years

Patricia Talorico
Delaware News Journal

The Better Cheddar is safe, but Everything But the Kitchen Sink, one of Hockessin's longest-running stores, has announced it will close for good this coming January.

The upscale gift and accessories shop that once hosted in-store demonstration cooking classes has been in operation for more than 40 years.

It adjoins the Back Burner To Go gourmet and takeout shop in Hockessin Corner off Old Lancaster Pike.

A customer waits outside Everything but the Kitchen Sink on Wednesday morning. Store owners announced they would be closing the Hockessin shop in January after almost 44 years in business.

The Lickle family, which owns the Hockessin Corner shopping center, said their other businesses there, the Back Burner restaurant and the Back Burner To Go, will remain open, according to a Tuesday night Facebook post.

The Back Burner To Go is well known for making and selling gallons of a popular cheese spread known as Better Cheddar. The Back Burner restaurant has been operating in Hockessin since 1980.

A message left Wednesday with an owner was not immediately returned.

Longtime customers have expressed their sadness over the store's closing.

"There are so few gift stores anywhere around, you will truly be missed. Thank you for all the joy throughout the years," wrote one Tuesday night on Facebook.

"Sorry to see you closing, your store is something special," said another one.

A tablescape at Everything But The Kitchen Sink in Hockessin in 2009.

Everything But the Kitchen Sink, owned by Missy and Dan Lickle, opened in 1977. The couple also owned the Inn at Montchanin, Krazy Kat's restaurant in Montchanin and Garrett Snuff Mills in Yorklyn.

Everything But the Kitchen Sink began as a small gift shop in a renovated 19th century hardware and grain building. It grew steadily through the years into an 8,000-square-foot specialty store that offered some of the best browsing in the state.

"We have the unusual to the most traditional," read an advertisement in The News Journal in 1979.

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Missy Lickle, a direct descendant of the founder of the DuPont Co., did all the buying, and customers appreciated her keen eye for design and home decor that was usually well ahead of trends. 

In this 2005 photo Missy Lickle holds mirror mosiac ornaments she used to decorate a fireplace. Lickle was the brains and inspiration behind the designs at Everything But the Kitchen Sink in Hockessin. The store is closing in January.

As its name implies, Everything But the Kitchen Sink has a large inventory of upscale goods on its two floors. The store was brimming with the latest kitchenware, utensils, gadgets, cookware, cookbooks, china, crystal, jewelry, clothes, stationery and bath accessories. A cooking school was added in the early 1990s. 

The store also is known for its lavish decorations at Christmas. Staff always offer free gift wrapping, complete with elaborate ribbons and bows, for all gifts.

Murmurs about the store closing have been circulating on social media for several months.

Daniel Lickle, 87, died in February 2019. Missy Kitchell Lickle died in May 2019. She was 83. The couple is survived by four children — Ledee, DeWitt, Brett and Renee, as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren, according to obituaries.

The Tuesday night Facebook post confirmed the store's closing. 

"It has been our pleasure to serve and delight you for almost half a century. What began as a family business quickly turned into much more – a community hub, a shopping destination and a place that provided countless hours of enjoyment for staff and customers alike," wrote members of the Lickle family. 

"We thank you for your patronage and loyalty and look forward to serving you for years to come at The Back Burner and The Back Burner To Go."

It is not known if the coronavirus played a part in the store closing, but the closing announcement on Facebook asked that customers "please join us in remaining diligent about wearing masks and please practice social distancing in store. By doing so, you are protecting yourself and others and helping to keep our store safe for all."

COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the state's retail and restaurant industry. 

According to the Delaware Restaurant Association, the Delaware Department of Revenue shows state revenue from restaurant gross receipts have plummeted to less than 50% of 2019 receipts. The vast majority of Delaware restaurants are operating under a severe financial loss and do not expect to be profitable for the next six months.

Several longtime food establishments have already closed including the Cheese Chalet in Pike Creek, a gourmet and takeout shop that had been in business as long as Everything but the Kitchen Sink.

Cheese Chalet, run by Carol Huffman and her husband Henry, had been in operation for 44 years. It closed in March because of the pandemic and never reopened.

Contact Patricia Talorico at (302) 324-2861 or and on Twitter @pattytalorico