our story

Littlejohn’s opened in 1976 and quickly became a favorite of UVA students, tourists and townspeople. We are a New York Delicatessen with a Southern tradition. All of our meats and cheeses are hand-trimmed daily to ensure freshness and flavor and are of the highest quality available. Our pastrami, and corned beef brisket come from a 1932 old world traditional recipe. ​

We make all of our products from scratch. Our baked goods, soups, salads, meats and dressings are all made using the finest ingredients available. We have been honored to serve hundreds of thousands of guests. Whether you are a student, Charlottesville resident or just passing through, we invite you to stop in and try one of our specialty sandwiches or subs. ​

Thank you for your patronage. We look forward to serving you!


The Littlejohn’s Story:
Littlejohn’s was founded by John Crafaik Jr., a graduate of the University of Virginia, in 1976. He realized that there were a lot of students from the Northeast attending UVA, but that neither Charlottesville or the Corner had a good delicatessen or any place to get a great sandwich. With that in mind he came up with the restaurant that is now Littlejohn’s.

The name came about after dozens of names were rejected. While growing up, John’s father was Big John and he was Little John when friends and family were differentiating between the two. When it finally came time to name the new restaurant Mr. Crafaik decided to call it “Littlejohn’s New York Delicatessen”.

Littlejohn’s opened in the summer of ’76 without any advertising. Within days there was a line out the door as students, tourists and townspeople converged upon the Corner to get a great sandwich. In the tradition of a true New York corner deli, Littlejohn’s served over-stuffed deli-style sandwiches. At first the staff sliced meat to order, but as people lined up it was impossible to continue slicing meat to order and keep up with the demand for the tasty sandwiches. They quickly started to pre-slice their most popular meats and that increased the speed with which they could make a sandwich. Today, over forty years later, this is a tradition that has not changed. To ensure product freshness and flavor, Littlejohn’s still freshly pre-slices hundreds of pounds of meats every day.


The Sandwiches:
Littlejohn’s sandwiches are all heated in a custom modified gas broiler that melts the cheese on the top while grilling the bread underneath. While Littlejohn’s can make a mean ham and Swiss on rye or an awesome Reuben, it is famous for its unique combination sandwiches such as the 5 Easy Pieces, Wild Turkey or the Chris Long Submarine Sandwich. These unique specialty sandwiches and subs were all creations of UVA student employees experimenting with ingredients. We are grateful for their creativity as well as well as the continued support of the University of Virginia community.


Today:
In the Summer of 2019 Littlejohn's had a change of ownership. Mr. Crafaik handed the reigns of the business over to another University of Virginia alumni Christian Trendel (CLAS 85) and Charlottesville native Christopher Smith. The Smith family made regular outings to Littlejohn's in the late Seventies and Eighties and Christopher fondly remembers Littlejohn's in its heyday. He continues the Smith family tradition with his family which now celebrates three generations of dining at Littljohn's. Christian ate his first Littlejohn’s sandwich, the famous Sampson Sub, named after Virginia basketball star Ralph Sampsonon his first weekend at UVA. As an undergrad he worked in many Corner restaurants including the Virginian and Biltmore Grill. He has an extensive background in business and restaurant management and has owned a variety of restaurants in Charlottesville. He had one of Charlottesville’s first food trucks which set up operations selling concessions to the Sprint Pavilion’s audience. He is excited to be back on the Corner serving UVA students, faculty and hospital staff as well as tourists and townspeople. “Never in a million years, when I first set foot on the Corner, did I think that I would one day own an iconic Corner restaurant that served the University Community. It is literally a dream come true”.