Owner and customers react after car smashes into popular South City staple

Lily’s Mexican Restaurant had to close after a car crashed into its north wall early Tuesday...
Lily’s Mexican Restaurant had to close after a car crashed into its north wall early Tuesday morning
Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 10:36 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Lily’s Mexican Restaurant, which sits on the corner of South Kingshighway and Devonshire, had to close after a car crashed into its north wall early Tuesday morning.

The restaurant is a staple in South City, serving authentic Mexican cuisine.

“We were blessed and lucky that this happened in the middle of the night,” owner Salvador Esparza said.

Hours after a car smashed into the restaurant, customers stopped by to check on the owners.

“I saw Salvador and Adela here so I thought we need to stop and make sure they are okay,” Lois Lafferty-Gude said.

The wreck happened around 5:30 a.m. That’s when police told Esparza a female driver knocked over a traffic light and jumped a curb, crashing into the business. Police told Salvador the girl was okay.

“I was very sad because all the plants were my wife’s, were destroyed, a couple of tables destroyed. but it’s something we can replace but a life we cannot,” Esparza said.

In photos Salvador and his wife, Adela, shared on Facebook, police tape is seen stretching across the north side wall, where glass shards litter the ground. The patio fence is now flattened, and pieces of debris litter the area.

“But how long will it take them to fix it? I have no idea,” Esparza said.

Salvador said since 2004, a vehicle has hit his restaurant at least three times.

“[Speeding] is a problem,” Esparza said.

On Tuesday evening, he was overwhelmed by emotions by how many people stopped to help with the cleanup.

“It’s been a lot of people stopping to by to make sure we’re okay, and that’s the main thing,” Esparza shared.

The Gudes are regular customers and said they won’t stop now.

“As a Spanish teacher, in the past, I would bring my students to this restaurant because it’s so authentic and wonderful,” Lois Lafferty-Gude explained. “The family is so warm and welcoming.”

“We’ve seen their children grow up as we come here, it’s just a great neighborhood place,” Ray Gude said.

When asked about what makes him the proudest of his restaurant, Salvador said it put his three kids through private education so they can achieve their dreams.


News 4 reached out to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) for a report and are still waiting on a response.

The Esparzas rent the space for their business. Salvador says his building’s owner confirmed the driver had insurance and it will cover the damages.

The restaurant is slated to reopen Wednesday at 4 PM.