Layla, a Beloved Grove Mainstay, Has Closed

The restaurant and bar was a foundational player in the city's craft cocktail movement

Sep 7, 2022 at 6:00 am

click to enlarge Layla, a longtime Grove cocktails and shawarma hot spot, has closed.
Layla, a longtime Grove cocktails and shawarma hot spot, has closed.

A giant of the city's cocktail scene and popular spot for burgers, shawarma and fries has served its last guests. Layla (4317 Manchester Avenue), the 10-year-old Grove restaurant and bar, has closed.

A spokesperson for the restaurant who asked to remain anonymous confirmed the news to the Riverfront Times in a phone call yesterday afternoon, noting that the closure was technically being referred to as temporary, though the restaurant would likely never reopen. She added that the restaurant's sister location in Webster Groves, Layla and the Bad Egg, remains open and bustling.

According to a Notice of Termination dated August 17, 2022 that was posted on Layla's front door, the restaurant's lease was terminated on August 31, 2022 and the tenant, Four Sparks LLC, had until that same day to vacate the premises. Layla's spokesperson did not speak to the contents of the notice but blamed the restaurant's problems on "staffing issues."

Layla first opened in the Grove in 2012 as a traditional Lebanese restaurant. A year later, the restaurant was purchased by Jason Sparks, who converted the space into a delightful fusion of Middle Eastern and American cuisine. Under his watch, Layla became just as well-known for its fries and shakes as its shawarma and hummus and was lauded for such a unique blend of offerings.

The new ownership also ushered in a fresh emphasis on Layla's beverage program, and the restaurant's bar quickly became one of the top player's in the city's then-nascent cocktail scene. Big names in St. Louis cocktail culture honed their craft at Layla, most notably Tony Saputo, who made its bar into a must-visit destination for beverage enthusiasts.

In 2019, Sparks opened Layla's second location in Webster Groves but transitioned the spot into the daytime concept, Layla and the Bad Egg, late last year. As the spokesperson noted, the Webster Groves restaurant remains open and business there is as usual.