“The one that didn’t work here before”
Joseph Vericella is one of the two co-owners of Clay’s Cafe, starting his entrepreneurship journey January 1, 2022 with Joshua Powell. With both owners’ names starting with a “J” it can be hard for guests and staff members alike to not mix them up. Joseph gets stopped by guests many times with them asking, “Are you the one that worked here before?” – referring to Josh who worked at the Cafe previously in the early 2000s. Or “are you the one that went to Lakewood?” – referring to Josh who was a graduate of class of 2009. It doesn’t bother him one bit though as he says with a smile, “Josh is a great person and it is a wonderful compliment to be confused with him.”
Joseph, or Joey, did not previously work in a restaurant before his ownership of Clay’s, but he has been in love with food and preparing food since before he can remember. In fact, he previously had dreams of running a small diner after retiring. He says fate has other plans as the “diner” opportunity fell into his lap a lot earlier. This wasn’t the only sign that let him know taking over Clay’s was meant to be however. This was the very first restaurant he dined in when first visiting Ohio. In addition, the cafe’s street address is 808. That is the same as the area code for Hawaii where Joseph was born and raised – being the area code for the entire state adds significance to the set of 3 numbers and has become a condensed way to represent one’s heritage and pride in being from there. So it couldn’t have just been a coincidence.
A year into this journey and Joseph is still having a blast. His favorite aspects would have to be visiting with regulars at the counter and being the garbage disposal for any messed up orders. He’s also known for one heck of a sweet tooth and can often be found concocting a new dessert he wishes he could add to the menu.
To read more about Joseph, visit Drew Bracken’s Aces of Trades article featured in the Newark Advocate or stop by the cafe and to say hi. (He’s the one with darker hair)