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Three generations of serving Colonial Beach

Growing up in Colonial Beach, Rocky Denson was fascinated by the well stocked shelves in his grandfather’s store. Denson’s Supermarket was an essential part of life at the Beach for more than six decades.

Now Rocky Denson and his wife, Blaire, are continuing the tradition of managing a family owned and operated grocery store for the third generation. Their store, Denson’s Grocery, opened in 2011 and in 2012 was the Colonial Beach Chamber of Commerce’s “Business of the Year.”

During a 20-year career with the Virginia Farm Bureau, Rocky would frequently recall his family’s days in the grocery business. “The Farm Bureau treated me wonderfully, but during the last five years I began to think more and more about opening a store,” Rocky said.

“I completely supported the idea,” Blaire said. “It was something the community needed, especially, more specialty items.” After Rocky left the Farm Bureau in 2010, Rocky and Blaire began looking for the right location and found it at 117 Washington Ave., where the Bob Campbell’s family had operated a small deli for years.

“We did our research, we found a location and we consulted with the town,” Rocky said. “We opened in May of 2011 and the town of Colonial Beach and the people of Colonial Beach have been nothing but good to us.”

And the Densons have returned the favor. Their store offers a full service Boar’s Head Deli, catered lunches, fresh made salads, local and organic produce, locally grown certified Angus beef, wild caught seafood, Trickling Springs Creamery milk and ice cream, imported and domestic wines, craft and micro brewed beers, beach and boater lunches and a traveling oyster bar.

“It’s all about the food,” said Rocky. “We make sure to use the freshest ingredients and we make everything from scratch.”

Rocky gives Blaire much of the credit for the store’s success. “Blaire is my best friend and my confidant,” he said. “She is an analyst; she looks at the numbers and dissects everything. I’m more of a big picture guy.”

Blaire, an educator with the Colonial Beach Public School System for 12 years and the founder of the Colonial Beach after school program, travels frequently in her current position as executive director of an after school nonprofit. She is constantly looking for new and different dishes to enhance Denson’s menu.

“We knew we had to do something different,” said Rocky. “We feature regional dishes. We use local produce and local seafood as much as possible. We will not use imported crabmeat, only crabmeat from Chesapeake Bay blue crabs. Our cheeses are excellent. So are our wines. Hard to find specialty and gourmet items line our shelves.”

A new feature at Denson’s this year is an outdoor courtyard where lunch is served and in the late afternoon and evening fruit plates and wine and cheese are available for the enjoyment of customers. Every Saturday the courtyard is home to the R&B Oyster Bar which features ice cold oysters on the half shell or oysters steamed ‘Drago style.’

“We take special care to secure the freshest and tastiest oysters from up and down the East Coast,” Rocky said. “We also offer steamed mussels and clams.”

Denson’s efforts to offer customers fresh, healthy and tasty foods are being rewarded with a steady stream of patrons. “We are humbled by all of the good comments from folks,” Rocky said. “Our biggest asset is our customers and our employees. We are like a big family here.”

Denson’s is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Catered lunches and service for private parties are available. The phone number is (804) 224-4121.

“We have a passion for good, fresh food,” Rocky said, “We enjoy serving the community and our customers.”

Richard Leggitt

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