A popular, family-owned southern comfort food restaurant is taking its sweet potato pie to Hybla Valley.
Della J’s Delectables is moving from its Springfield home of the last five years to Mount Vernon Plaza, right off of Richmond Highway near Gum Springs. It will occupy a space that was formerly a Ruby Tuesday’s.
The plan is to start serving at 7692 Richmond Highway by early August, co-owner Jerry Young tells FFXnow, with the old spot in Springfield remaining open until the new one begins operations.
Young explains that they are moving because of space. The restaurant has taken off recently, with one frequent patron telling FFXnow that lines can snake out of the door. The kitchen can get cramped as well, Young notes, with orders coming in and out.
“We’re busy,” Young said. “And we needed something that’s more accommodating for us, our staff, and the public as well.”
Della J’s, known for its soul food and southern cooking, is named after Young’s mom.
He grew up in Alexandria, right behind what was then called T.C. Williams High School, and as a kid, he used to help his mom cook many of the recipes that are now served at the restaurant.
“We were really close,” he said.
Today, cooking and baking is Young’s passion as well as an activity that reminds him of his mom, who died at the relatively young age of 68. And he’s gotten very good at it.
“Cooking is a huge stress reliever for me,” Young said. “I have this ability to just open the cookbook up, look at a recipe, and pretty much nail it the first or second time.”
Young didn’t actually start out in the restaurant business, working for American Express for nearly four decades before finally retiring in 2017.
Years before, though, he first realized that he could sell the dishes he baked and cooked. One night, he brought over a pumpkin cheesecake to a family dinner. His brother, who is a Marine, loved it so much that he encouraged Young to make more.
“I did what he said and started selling them. I had a knack for it,” he said.
In the late 1990s, Young opened a take-out spot in Woodbridge with his wife Lydia, but they stepped aside when his first daughter was born and Young’s mom got sick.
More than a decade later, the couple tried again, opening a stand at the Springfield Farmers’ Market. Soon, Young got requests to open another brick-and-mortar, and Della J’s launched in Springfield in April 2017.
“I signed a lease April 4th and retired [from American Express] the 27th,” he said, chuckling.
Della J’s menu consists of many southern favorites, including chicken biscuits, pulled pork, fried fish, grits and sweet potato pie. When it moves to Mount Vernon Plaza, the offerings will stay mostly the same, though they will be a bit more “upscale.” Young also plans to hire more staff and host jazz bands a night or two every week.
The move closer to Gum Springs is a bit of a homecoming for Young, whose dad was a member of the community’s historic Bethlehem Baptist Church. Its current pastor, Reverend Dr. Darrell Keith White, is a regular at Della J’s.
Young is excited to make the move to a bigger space, one that holds meaning for him and his family, and continue to serve up dishes that honor his mom.
“If you like catfish and grits, cornbread, some collard greens, or shrimp and grits,” Young said. “Then, come see us.”
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