BY JACLYN ROSE –
When eating at La Villa Mexican Restaurant in Mena, two things can be expected, first, the food will come quickly and second, the price will be fair. Those two observations are part of the reason that La Villa has flourished since they opened their doors, at 1100 Highway 71 North in Mena, almost eight years ago.
For 13 years prior to moving to Mena and opening La Villa, Jose Antonio Lua and Hugo Rios worked together at a restaurant in Hot Springs. Lua worked as a server and Rios as a cook. They were approached by someone asking them if they would consider becoming partners and opening a restaurant in Mena and the idea began to take root. “When my friend invited us to open a business in Mena it was hard. We went from Hot Springs to a small town and we never thought we could have a successful business, but now we can say this is our town, our home, and we want to thank our customers and friends for letting this be our town,” said Lua.
Both Lua and Rios moved to Mena and created lives for themselves in the community. Lua is married to his wife of 16 years, Miriam, and has three children, Christian, Stephanie and William. Christian is a 15 year old freshman at Mena High School and is involved in soccer and basketball. Stephanie is a 12 year old 7th grader at Mena Middle School and enjoys soccer and volleyball. William is their two year old son. Rios is married to Lesly and they have one adorable three year old son, Maximillian.
La Villa Mexican Restaurant is open seven days a week. Sunday through Thursday their hours are 10:30 am until 9:00 pm and Friday and Saturday they are open from 10:30 am until 10:00 pm. They offer daily lunch specials and have a separate kid’s menu. They also welcome big parties or group meetings in their meeting room and they enjoy catering big groups. Both Rio and Lua recommend trying their Ranchero Special, which is a favorite among regular customers.
Several years after opening their restaurant in Mena, Lua and Ruo were able to expand to two other cities, El Dorado, Arkansas six years ago and Nashville, Arkansas two years ago. Both men split their time between those cities and Mena, but both are emphatic that Mena is their home. “Mena is our home base and our town, we both bought homes in Mena and we want to raise our families here,” explained Lua.
La Villa also sponsors a little league soccer team and they are dedicated to helping expand that sport in Polk County.
“Mena is a very good town for raising kids, we have a very good school. We are very happy with the people and I try hard to make sure I cook everything fresh and fast for the people,” said Rios, who serves as the head cook. “We enjoy the people in Mena, it’s a friendly town. In Hot Springs, it seemed like everyone was doing their own thing, here you go to Walmart and everyone knows you and everyone says hi. I like that, it’s very friendly. We want to say thank you to the people for supporting us and we hope to continue serving good food for a long time,” added Lua.