Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

The Stacked Eatery Co. Story


Former Navy child shares roots, food and love with Hampton Roads

by Kymberly Bach

Owners Deanna Kolby-Clarkson and Harold Clarkson

Owners Deanna Kolby-Clarkson and Harold Clarkson

As a Navy child, Deanna Kolby - Clarkson always dreamed of owning a place where people could come eat and have great conversations. Originally, the idea was a coffee shop that would serve pastries, sandwiches and soups.  It evolved along the way. “I grew up watching Mel’s Diner and Cheers on television, and that’s the kind of feel I want to provide for my guests,” the owner and chef of the Stacked Eatery Co. says. “I always wanted a shop where people could come talk, enjoy wonderful food and experience a hometown feeling.”

Deanna’s family moved frequently with the Navy, living everywhere from Connecticut to Hawaii. They lived in Virginia Beach the longest, and Deanna graduated from Kempsville High School and attended Tidewater Community College.

“I have really fond memories
 of helping in the kitchen;
there was always a lot of laughter,
a lot of fun,
and everybody enjoyed themselves.”

—Deanna Kolby-Clarkson 

Growing up, cooking was always a family affair for Deanna. “My aunt, mother, and grandmother would get together on Saturday and Sunday. They would make food for the entire week and then each would take some home,” she reflects. “My family is Hungarian and I learned very early on to make everything from scratch. We would make cabbage rolls, nokedli dumplings, nut rolls and poppyseed rolls called beigli, chicken paprikash, stuffed peppers, and haluski, fried cabbage over egg noodles. I have really fond memories of helping in the kitchen; there was always a lot of laughter, a lot of fun, and everybody enjoyed themselves.” 

Deanna’s husband of over 20 years, Harold, grew up in Rutland, Vermont.  He joined the Navy and served on the USS Saratoga CV 60, and was also stationed in NAS Souda Bay, Crete, and NAS Jacksonville, Florida. The last place he was stationed was NAS Oceana in Virginia Beach.

After being a call center manager for more than two decades, Deanna realized it was time to pursue her dream. “She just loves cooking and I love to see how happy she is doing it,” Harold says. On the weekends, he helps by running food out to the tables or by simply keeping an eye on things. But Harold’s favorite thing to do is talk with their guests and build friendships with regulars as well as with new visitors.

The cozy atmosphere of wood tables, an oversized wooden bar and eclectic art that adorns the walls lends itself to an environment of warmth with a ton of fun thrown in. “Cooking allows me to be creative and to make people happy; just seeing their smiles, watching the meals being served and hearing people say ‘This is really good!’ brightens my day,” Deanna beams.

As each guest arrives, they are given a friendly welcome and are guided to their table. Tasty food, great customer service and a comfortable atmosphere are just the start of what Deanna has to offer. “We can cater to special dietary needs with our gluten free pancakes, and sugar free and vegetarian items,” she says. “We like to accommodate any special requests. Sometimes I will even know who is visiting by what they’ve ordered, and I can pop out of the kitchen and say ‘hi!’”

From left: Meghan Collins, Betsye Manser and Ann Thompson  enjoying a homemade breakfast

From left: Meghan Collins, Betsye Manser and Ann Thompson enjoying a homemade breakfast

“We like getting recommendations from our guests,” Deanna remarks. “We often just go ahead and try their suggestion to see how it works. I have taste testers that will come in and let me know if I need to tweak a particular recipe, and I really appreciate their honesty. I also have guests that come in specifically to try out the new specialty item for that week. There are definite hits and misses, but I just like to try different things.”   

Deanna has an affinity for coming up with all kinds of ideas for unique recipes. Every week, she creates a new pancake and a new French toast special. One week chunky monkey pancakes with bananas, chocolate, and nuts could be featured, and a different week could boast carrot cake or red velvet pancakes, or even salted caramel pretzel pancakes. Deanna takes a special approach to the French toast – it is made with French bread baguettes. And she gets inventive: mango lime, butter pecan, or fruity cereal French toast flavors are frequently offered.

Bloody Marys and original and specialty mimosas are also available.     

Creativity is great, but doing the basics well is essential. Deanna has mastered that, as evidenced by being chosen as the recipient of the Virginian-Pilot’s Reader Choice Awards Best of 2017 for her Basic Buttermilk Pancakes.

All items on the menu are made from scratch using only fresh ingredients. For instance, the corned beef hash is made from brisket that has been marinated for a full 24 hours before Deanna works her magic. “Just recently we had a family in from Maryland who was so impressed with the corned beef that they hugged me and then came back each day of their visit for more!” she laughs.

Diners can enjoy some time to simply chat while their orders are being prepared just so. “We’re not fast-food; we are food made the right way just for you.” 

“We believe
in down-home Southern hospitality;
we want our guests
 to feel like they have had plenty to eat.
In other words,
no one leaves hungry!”

—Harold Clarkson

 “From pancakes to eggs Benedict to fried okra, hand-breaded chicken tenders, lump crab cakes, or hand-cut french fries - we cook it all to order,” Harold declares. “And we believe in down-home Southern hospitality; we want our guests to feel like they have had plenty to eat. In other words, no one leaves hungry!”

Deanna and Harold have a strong desire to support the community that has embraced their restaurant. They collect for Toys for Tots, donate sales of baked goods to No Kid Goes Hungry, and set up a stand outside the restaurant for CHKD’s LemonAid fundraiser to support kids fighting cancer. They also offer a discount to members of the military and first responders.

“My favorite part of owning a restaurant is making our guests feel like they are at their grandmother’s house. It really takes me back to my own childhood. And I love it when our guests come back and I get to see their kids growing up,” Deanna smiles.   

Stacked Eatery Company

717 Eden Way N., Unit #610
Chesapeake, VA 23320