Della J’s Delectables to make new home at Mount Vernon Plaza


Lydia and Jerry Young, owners of Della J's Delectables

For the past five years, Jerry and Lydia Young have owned and operated Della J’s Delectables — a sit-down restaurant and bar featuring southern home cooking — at a small strip mall along Backlick Road in Springfield. Now, with the five-year lease up on their 2,400 square-foot space and a pressing need for a larger kitchen to accommodate the restaurant’s busy catering business, the Youngs are planning to make the move to a larger site this summer — specifically, to the former Ruby Tuesday space at Mount Vernon Plaza.

The Richmond Highway corridor is familiar territory for the Youngs. Jerry’s dad was a member of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Gum Springs, and Jerry and Lydia got married there in 1988. The church’s current pastor, the Reverend Dr. Darrell Keith White, is a regular at Della J’s, though his commute there soon will be much shorter. The Youngs aim to move into the new space in June and open the restaurant for business by July.

Lydia, who serves as the restaurant’s business manager, said they’re excited about the possibility of generating more foot traffic at the Route 1 location. Between now and move-in, they will be completely redesigning the facility externally and internally, giving the restaurant a more upscale feel than at the present site. While the comfort foods on the menu — based on Jerry’s mother Della’s recipes — will largely remain the same, some tweaks will be made based on Richmond Highway’s demographics, said Jerry.

Despite having no formal training as a chef, Jerry grew up cooking with his mother and dabbled in the restaurant business on and off during a 39-year career with American Express. In the late 1990’s, he and Lydia had a take-out soul food restaurant in Woodbridge that “wasn’t sustainable,” said Jerry, due to the heaviness of the cuisine. In 2014, they began beta-testing a more diverse menu of items at the Springfield Farmer’s Market and began to get requests for a brick-and-mortar restaurant. Upon retiring from American Express in 2017, he and Lydia launched Della J’s in the town where they lived, aiming to bring “something that didn’t exist” to a very diverse neighborhood.

While the Youngs have since hired a “fantastic chef” who has improved the restaurant’s catering business, Lydia still appreciates her husband’s skills in the kitchen. “He cooks good, and I eat good — it’s a match made in heaven,” she said.

Named one of Yelp’s “Black-Owned Businesses to Watch” last year, Della J’s Delectables will soon be hiring for several positions at its new location at 7692 Richmond Highway in Alexandria.

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