On September 17, 1951, Hargrave Ferguson purchased the Pig-N-Bun barbecue restaurant at the corner of National Avenue and Bennett Street. He started experimenting with tacos and tostadas and was soon adding his perfected recipes to the Pig-N-Bun menu. In the late 1950s, Hargrave opened Old Mexico on South Glenstone Avenue and leased his barbecue restaurant to Tommy Lafino, who opened Italian Villa at that location.
When Tommy passed away in the early 1960s, Hargrave went back to his old location. “There was already a sign that said Italian Villa,” explains Jeff Hornbeck, general manager of Mexican Villa. “Hargrave felt that the easiest thing for him to do was to take ‘Italian’ off and put ‘Mexican’ in its place, and Mexican Villa was born.”
Sixty-five years later, Hargrave’s grandson has taken up the reins of the family-owned business and Mexican Villa currently has six restaurant locations, as well as a factory on Springfield’s Division Street that makes all the tortilla, chips, spices, and sauces for this Missouri Mexican success story.