nextSTL has confirmed that after a decade in The Grove, Sweetie Pie’s has closed its location at 4270 Manchester. The location in Grand Center, known as The Upper Crust, will remain open. The storefront in The Grove is unlikely to remain empty for long. Although no new tenant announcement has been made, nextSTL has learned that negotiations with a new tenant are nearing completion.
Sweetie Pie’s gained notoriety with the reality television series Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN TV network. The show’s enjoyed a successful run of six seasons, airing a total of 76 episodes and specials. Popular before the series, the show solidified Sweetie Pie’s success, bringing tour buses and longer lines to The Grove, where many episodes have been filmed.
Over the years, the Sweetie Pie’s location on Manchester had closed for extended periods seemingly without notice, leading to speculation that the restaurant had closed. Each time, customers were surprised by locked doors, inquiries went unanswered, and then the restaurant would re-open.
Sweetie Pie’s was founded by Robbie Montgomery and her son Tim Norman in 1996 in the north St. Louis suburb of Dellwood. The location in The Grove opened in 2006. The success of both locations led Montgomery to open a restaurant, banquet hall, and cooking school in the city’s Grand Center arts district in 2012.
That location appeared to be under threat for years, as the adjacent John Cochran Veterans Administration Medical Center eyed expansion for parking. Montgomery told the St. Louis American in 2013, “One of the things that we are battling is if we are going to be able to hold onto the restaurant because of the veteran’s hospital. If they prepare for me to go someplace else, I’m prepared to be a good citizen and move on and make room if that happens.” The VA had eyed the adjacent historic Palladium building as well. Those expansion plans appear to have stalled.
A deal in the works in 2014 to expand the Sweetie Pie’s franchise to other cities never panned out. We reported the restaurant was close to finalizing a deal with Matthew Knowles, father of international recording superstar and actress Beyoncé. The first location outside St. Louis was to be in Houston. The ultimate failure of those plans, as well as a plan to open a Memphis location, were covered on the TV show.
More recently, Montgomery’s son TJ opened Sweetie Pie’s NoHo in North Hollywood, CA this past year. That opening began a legal dispute with his mother over trademark issues. In November of last year, the small St. Louis County municipality of Berkley approved a permit for a TJ Sweetie Pie’s to operate in a former Del Taco. That location reportedly opened in the past few weeks.
Sweetie Pie’s has also been the target of several lawsuits. Last July a creditor sued for more than $215,000 in unpaid debt. Earlier this year, Sweetie Pie’s failed to appear in court, losing a $30,000 judgement in a case pertaining to a customer who slipped and fell at the restaurant.
Montgomery grew up in the Pruitt-Igoe housing project. She first became widely noticed as a member of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue backing group, the Ikettes, during the 1960s. Before retiring from singing in 1980 following a collapsed lung, she also worked with Dr. John, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Pink Floyd, Van Morrison, and The Rolling Stones among many others.
Sweetie Pie’s The Upper Crust in Grand Center:
As of October 2016, Sweetie Pie’s in The Grove is now Sweet Times run by Robbie Montgomery’s son Tim Norman. You can read more about the change at the Post-Dispatch.