After 40 years in business, you’d expect some skeletons in the attic. That’s true for Hacienda Mexican Restaurants, but not how you might think.
In the rafters of the popular restaurant’s original and presumed haunted location at 706 Lincoln Way W. in Mishawaka is something of a graveyard consisting of toy skeletons, old promotion materials, booths, tables and chairs. Despite popular belief, however, no ghosts were seen this past Thursday, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t there.
“You would see some things when you are here late at night like a closed door or lights flickering,” said Jeff Leslie, who was general manager at the location near the 100 Center before eventually becoming vice president and chief marketing officer for Hacienda restaurants. “If you believe in the paranormal, you may think it’s a ghost. But, I think it’s just an old house.”
On June 14, 1978, that old house opened as the first Hacienda, having been converted from a former restaurant called Caravan. Before the cantina was built, customers would sit on the front stoop waiting for their table and would enter through the front doors. According to Leslie, the company didn’t have a three-way liquor license at the time, so the restaurant did what it could and made margaritas out of wine. It didn’t go so well.
Soon after, the company expanded to the south side of South Bend at the former Scottsdale Mall (now Erskine Village). Other locations popped up throughout South Bend, Mishawaka and Elkhart, and the company has since expanded to Plymouth, Kokomo and Evansville. Now, the business has 14 locations across Indiana and it seems like everyone has “their Haci.”