Springfield has a rich history in food culture and in this issue, we'd like to celebrate the restaurants that have been in business 50+ years
Pappy’s Place, built in 1903, is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Springfield. The restaurant began as a grocery store, but in 1926, became a cafe. In 1933, when prohibition ended, the owners purchased Springfield’s first beer-by-the-drink license. The restaurant became known as Pappy’s Place in 1971 and has been a BBQ staple ever since.
Gailey’s opened in 1942 when married couple Joe and Beulah Gailey created a fountain drugstore close to Route 66 in downtown Springfield. Joe ran the pharmacy and Beulah cooked burgers and served chili and shakes. Gailey’s still inhabits the original drugstore and diner.
Taylor’s Drive-In has been serving customers since 1947 with daily ground hamburgers, fries, onion rings and maybe the only soda fountain fountain left in town. Taylor’s used to be the local hang out for students on the weekend. Darlene, who’s been the owner for 40+ years can be found in the corner booth with the cash-only cash register every day.
Mexican Villa began in a BBQ restaurant that Garin and Betty Ferguson bought in 1951. Garin, an army pilot, fell in love with tex-mex food while training with the army in San Antonio. The BBQ restaurant was later leased to a restaurant called “Italian Villa.” When the owner retired, the Ferguson’s replaced "Italian" with "Mexican" on the storefront and "Mexican Villa" was born.
In 1958, Dorothy and Pat began Pizza House. Their menu was simply pizza, salad and drinks. The dough and sauce are made fresh every day and the cheese is ground fresh daily. Pizza House moved to Commercial Street 13 years ago but otherwise remains the same.
In 1963 David Leong opened Leong’s Tea House, a 350-seat white-table- cloth restaurant. Leong created “Springfield-style cashew chicken,” some- thing that hundreds of Chinese restaurants in town have tried to duplicate. And he’s still at it to this day at the current Leong’s Asian Diner.
Springfield’s original Village Inn locations opened in 1965 and are still operated by the Greene family. Brothers Bob and Bill Greene run the front of house and the kitchen respectively and are a large part of the charity fund- raising community in town.
St George’s Donuts was created by Katy and Charles St George. Katy had owned a donut shop in California before the family decided to move back to her hometown to raise their kids. They opened up St George’s Donuts in Springfield in 1971 and have been a long standing member of the community since.
Cheers to 50+ years!