Sunday Best closes ghost kitchen at The Hill Food Co. , kiosk at CITYPARK remains open

The latest chapter in Sunday Best’s story has been written—and the ending is one that will disappoint St. Louis fried chicken lovers. Owner John Perkins announced today that the brand is closing its operation as a ghost kitchen inside The Hill Food Co., effective immediately. 

In an email announcing the closure, Perkins gave no details about the reason for the closure. “Today is our last day operating at The Hill Food Co.,” Perkins said in the email. “We made a go of it. It’s not for us. I appreciate those of you who supported us through the transition.”

Perkins opened Sunday Best as a ghost kitchen inside The Hill Food Co. in April. The brand offered an abridged version of the fried chicken, sides, salads, and sandwiches from the brick-and-mortar of the same name, which closed in the Central West End in February. At the time of the ghost kitchen launch, Perkins told SLM that the arrangement made sense: He’d inked a deal with The Hill Food Co. for commissary space to prep food for Sunday Best’s operations at CITYPARK, so adding this element involved little additional overhead. “We have just a couple of employees running it, and it’s as simple and stripped-down as it can be,” Perkins said at the time. 

Perkins had hoped that the arrangement, coupled with his stand inside CITYPARK, would keep the Sunday Best brand alive in customers’ minds until he could figure out next steps. He knew that a large, formal restaurant space was not the answer. That was clear to him almost immediately after launching the brand in July 2023 in the sizable Central West End space that previously housed his acclaimed Southern restaurant, Juniper. Originally, he’d envisioned Sunday Best as a casual spot with little more real estate than a fast-food joint. He had the space and a lease, however, so he decided to give it a shot.

It was well-received and critically acclaimed, but the casual, moderately priced restaurant couldn’t get out from underneath the substantial overhead associated with such large, prime real estate. After six months, he decided to go a different route, and The Hill Food Co. made sense on a number of levels. Now, Perkins again finds himself at a crossroads with a concept that holds much promise. 

The Backstory

Perkins has been a fixture in the St. Louis restaurant scene ever since he launched a series of pop-ups and underground dinners more than a decade ago. Those dinners gave way to the lauded Juniper, an elevated Southern restaurant that garnered accolades for such delicious dishes as shrimp and grits, country ribs, catfish, and some of the best bread service the city has ever seen.

As much as those dishes were celebrated, it was Perkins’ fried chicken that became the star of the show—something that he originally bristled at but came to embrace over the years. In 2022, Eater named Juniper one of the best fried chicken restaurants in the country. The dish accounted for roughly 80 percent of Juniper’s sales. Over time—and after some serious soul-searching, a pandemic, and a personal health crisis—Perkins realized that he needed to embrace what was right there in front of him and give the people what they wanted. He closed Juniper in July 2023 and reopened a month later as Sunday Best—a leap he admitted to SLM was terrifying, but one that he had to take nonetheless.  “I have zero idea if this will work,” Perkins said. “But I think I have a real shot to build something here.”

Perkins declined to comment on the recent news, but he did note that Sunday Best will remain open inside CITYPARK.

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