Three years ago, Dave O’Keefe walked into a local pizzeria in his Cobble Hill neighborhood to pick up a pizza for dinner. By the time the pizza was out of the oven, he’d decided he was going to buy the restaurant. Dave said he saw the owner of the restaurant sitting at a table watching a soccer game on the television, looking bored, and asked him if he’d be interested in selling his place. The owner told him if he was serious to come back and they’d talk in more detail.
A veteran in the restaurant and bar business, Dave has over 20 years of experience in the industry, working every position from a dishwasher and bartender to a front of the house manager and director of operations of a large restaurant chain in New York City.
Dave took over the pizzeria in March 2007, renaming it Layla Jones after his two beautiful children. He has since transformed the quick serve establishment into a family friendly dining spot. The interior of the restaurant is simple, decorated with large red booths you’d find in a 1950’s soda shop. A colorful chalkboard hangs on the brick wall, displaying the daily specials. You can even watch pizzas being made in the tiny exposed kitchen adjacent to the dining room. Dave also renovated the space behind the restaurant, transforming it into a tranquil outdoor patio, perfect for dining al fresco during the warm summer months.
Dave has lived in the quaint Italian neighborhood for 15 years with his wife Lourdes, who works as an actress. Lourdes is the creative force behind the design elements of the restaurant and the menu. Shortly after the birth of their daughter Layla, Dave decided he wanted to spend more time with his family and made the decision to leave his corporate restaurant job. Taking over the pizzeria has given him the chance to run his own business and to be closer to his family, he says.
“Running a restaurant isn’t easy, but because I live so close to the restaurant, I can get home and be with the kids if my wife needs to leave for her auditions,” Dave says. “I also like being able to invest back into the neighborhood we live in.”
What’s on the menu
Mirroring the décor of the restaurant, the menu at Layla Jones offers comforting family style dishes. From grilled sandwiches served on homemade breads to the pasta and square pan pizza dishes, there’s something for every palate. If you’re a pizza fan, I’d highly recommend their grilled pizzas.
The pizza is cooked over the fire of a grill, turned over once, and topped with yummy ingredients like goat cheese, fresh tomatoes and sweet sausage. The pizza pie has a light smoky charred flavor and I love the extra crunch in the crust. Layla Jones is definitely worth checking out if you’re in the mood for some excellent pizza and pastas.
Layla Jones, 214 Court St., Brooklyn, NY