Clayton and the surrounding territory lost a clubhouse when Layton’s closed in 2004. The former Howard Johnson’s on Clayton Road drew a mixed crowd, but at one level—not a gastronomic one—it gave the St. Louis Club a run for its money. Both movers and shakers and more clay-footed patrons gathered in booths and tables. Stories were told, news shared, and arms twisted.
Often someone would say, “At least you know where the restroom is,” referring to the identical layout of nearly all Howard Johnson’s restaurants. It was a dead giveaway as to the age of the clientele, too, because the listener had to be old enough to remember HoJo’s (and the fried clams—but that’s another story).
Years ago, my husband, Joe Pollack, requested an interview with comedian Jackie Mason, who was performing in town for several days. After lengthy discussion, Joe suggested that they meet at Layton’s, and this was deemed acceptable. They schmoozed at considerable length. Mason was not just satisfied; he was so pleased, he kept returning every day during his stay. Later, when quizzed on the short-lived love affair between the restaurant and comedian, Joe just shrugged: Who knew?