Pancho's in the 1950s



Panchos on South Bellevue
  • Pancho's on South Bellevue
My pal Bonnie Kourvelas recently sent me two wonderful images (originally Kodachrome color slides taken by her parents, Jerry and Edna Daws) showing the exterior and interior of the old Pancho's Mexican Restaurant that was located on South Bellevue. That's the Daws family in the pictures, but don't ask me to identify all of them. It was a private affair, and I wasn't invited.

To tell you the truth (as I am prone to do, from time to time, mainly when I am drunk), I wasn't familiar with this location. I knew Panchos' had (and still has) a restaurant on the outskirts of West Memphis, and I knew there was also a branch at Union and McLean, and later at Poplar and White Station.

But sure enough, from about 1959 until about 1972 (those dates are guesses, based on city directory listings, which are not complete, for some reason), Pancho's was located at 1670 South Bellevue, just across the street from the entrance to Forest Hill Cemetery. That building is gone now, so I'm glad to see these photos. I especially like the wonderful mural, and the terrific neon sign. And I'd certainly like to have some of those fine cars out front. And below is a shot of the interior. It's rather dark, and I certainly don't know WHAT the photographer was aiming at, but you can get a sense of the "authentic" Mexican clutter inside.

Bonnie, in case you don't know, is one of our city's finest historians, with an eye for great stories that rivals — no, exceeds — my own. Among other accomplishments, she is the talented host and segment producer of the current WKNO series Southern Routes, and in the past has produced such outstanding "Memphis Memoirs" segments as "Beyond the Parkways," "When TV Came to Town," and "Lost Memphis."

Thanks for sending along the photos, Bonnie, and special thanks to your mother and father for not only taking the original pictures, but — just as important for history buffs — holding onto them all these years!

Panchos on South Bellevue - Interior
  • Pancho's on South Bellevue - Interior


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