VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The smells alone will draw you into Clayton's Counter Delicatessen in Virginia Beach. "We're not your average delicatessen," said owner and chef Ralph Anderson.
He explained that it's not just your run-of-the-mill sandwich. There's one ingredient in particular that he takes the most pride in. "One of our main things is our pastrami. We make it from scratch," he smiled and nodded. They brine the brisket for about a week at Clayton's Counter and then smoke it in-house. It's a passion project for Anderson. So if you're questioning what to order, he said a pastrami sandwich is your best bet, "I always recommend that because that's something that I've put a lot of my heart and soul into," he nodded.
Anderson's passion for fine food is evident in the menu. A long menu with items like burgers or pierogi, and then, of course, a little bit of pastrami sprinkled throughout! Anderson says they offer vegan and gluten-free options too. He said he wants to have something for everyone in the community. For Anderson, the community is crucial because they keep him going.
"Being off Oceana Boulevard and being so close to the military, you know; the military support we've gotten from day one," he stopped and clasped his hands together as he took a breath and said, "it's kept our lights on. Between the military and the locals, we're blessed," he finished.
For Chef Anderson, the people are an essential part of his job. "When someone comes in here, and they leave happy, that means everything to me," he nodded.
There is a wholesale side of the store where Anderson only sells things made by locals so that he, in his local shop, can support his other community members as well.
You can visit Clayton's Counter Delicatessen at 1337 Oceana Blvd #130, Virginia Beach, VA 23454.
Author's Note: The video below is on file from Jan. 28, 2022.