Villar family closing one restaurant, opening another

Ben Villar's Mexican Restaurant will close for good on Saturday.

The Villar family, who founded Wichita’s first Mexico Cafe in 1970 at 1714 George Washington Blvd. and has gone on to open and operate several Mexican restaurants all over town, is moving its pieces around again.

Saturday will be the last day in business for Ben Villar’s Mexican Restaurant at 1930 S. Oliver. The restaurant has operated for two and a half years in the spot and was run by Ben Villar and his wife, Kim. It’s closing for “financial reasons,” Kim said. “The economy should be better,” she said. “It’s just been tough.”

But Ben Villar will not be out of work long if his brother, William’s, plans work out. William says he is very close to signing a deal to open Villar’s Mexico Cafe in the building at 1860 S. Hillside where his family operated a restaurant from 1970 to 1990. (The location most recently housed a Chinese restaurant.) If the deal goes through, the new restaurant should open in mid-July or early August, specializing in all the famous Villar family recipes, William Villar said. Ben Villar will run the restaurant with his brother.

William Villar also owns Mexico Cafe Delano at 555 W. Douglas and helped re-open El Mexico  at 2544 S. Seneca back in 2008. But he left that restaurant after a falling out with partner Brent Helm. Over the years, the Villar family has had a hand in 15 Mexican restaurants around town.

Ben Villar’s final Saturday hours will be 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. In a strange timing twist, the soon-to-be-vacated Ben Villar’s building was the last place Angelo’s operated before going out of business. Last week, Gina Fasciano-Hogan announced plans to reopen her family business in the old Barrier’s building at Douglas and Oliver.

I’ll let you know when William has more firm plans for Villar’s Mexico Cafe.