Don’t call it a comeback: UVA alum hopes to recapture Littlejohn’s former glory

Christian Trendel, the new owner of Littlejohn’s, has expanded the Corner eatery’s menu. Photo by Ashley Twiggs Christian Trendel, the new owner of Littlejohn’s, has expanded the Corner eatery’s menu. Photo by Ashley Twiggs

Littlejohn’s New York Delicatessen, an institution on the Corner for 40-plus years, has undergone a renaissance under new owner Christian Trendel, who was brought in by the family of founder John Crafaik, Jr.

“Littlejohn’s used to be a fixture on the Corner,” Trendel says. “And we’re trying to bring it back to that status.”

A UVA graduate, Trendel says it’s kind of like old home day now that he’s back, albeit on the other side of the counter. “I first walked in here in 1980, as a student,” he says. “I never thought I’d be owning Littlejohn’s.”

Trendel, who’s worked with a number of Charlottesville restaurants, says he’s lowered prices, beefed up the quality of the meats and cheeses, hired new staff, and expanded the menu to include deli classics in addition to the specialty sandwiches Littlejohn’s is known for. The restaurant is also back to being open till 3am, which no doubt appeals to its target audience.

“Right now, we’ve never been better,” Trendel says. “We’ve surprised a lot of old-timers who remember it exactly like it used to be, which is great, but also those who have noticed the quality improving a lot.”

Bucha bottom dollar

Waynesboro’s Blue Ridge Bucha is a winner of the national SCORE awards, which recognize the achievements of U.S. entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Owners Kate and Ethan Zuckerman, who started their kombucha business eight years ago, were awarded Outstanding American Manufacturing Small Business for making an environmental impact with their handcrafted organic kombucha, a naturally carbonated, fermented tea.

The Zuckermans have gone from selling their product out of the back of an old Honda Civic to distributing the kombucha to more than 50 chain markets in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. They remain committed to making a large economic and social impact in the community while maintaining as small a footprint as possible: Their refillable bottles and innovative draft systems have kept 750,000 bottles out of landfills.

Here today, gone tomorrow

Kebabish we hardly knew ye. The Water Street restaurant, which featured Nepali, Indian, and Turkish cuisine, hadn’t been open long last year before closing for renovations, which never seemed to materialize. The restaurant is now officially shuttered.

Qdoba Mexican Eats, a fast-casual chain, has closed after a long run on the Corner. No word on why it’s leaving the student-heavy dining corridor, or what will replace it.

Finger-lickin’ in Ruckersville

Greene County resident Keith Simmons adds to the ’cue scene with the opening of his new restaurant, The Wolf’s Fixins Barbecue in Ruckersville.

Simmons, who began smoking meats when he was a teenager, became a caterer but longed to start his own restaurant. A decade later, his dream has finally come true. While he’s new to the business of running a restaurant, that shouldn’t stand in his way—Simmons says he had no experience with construction, either, but that didn’t stop him from building out the restaurant himself.

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