Moises Lemus, owner of El Agave Mexican Grill, is no stranger to restaurant life. He grew up watching his dad cook in restaurant kitchens. It was his dad’s job that prompted a move to New Albany, Mississippi, when Lemus was nine years old, just one year after the family arrived in the United States from Mexico.
“My dad is retired now, but he visits and supports me at the restaurant,” said Lemus, whose family still lives in New Albany. “Enrique, our head cook in Oxford, used to cook alongside my dad. He just moved back to the states and we’re excited to have him in our kitchen.”
The new Oxford location, which opened Tuesday, October 11, is a bright, airy space with gleaming new furniture, a full bar and gorgeous hand-painted murals done by Lemus’ mother-in-law Sandra Hoyos.
“She’s a graphic designer, so she also designed our logo and menu,” Lemus said. “She’s the cashier at our New Albany location, too.”
Lemus said it was his customers in New Albany who gave him the push he needed to open a restaurant in Oxford.
“We had a lot of customers who were driving from Oxford to eat in New Albany,” Lemus said. “My customers gave me the confidence I needed to expand.”
El Agave’s menu strives to offer familiar Mexican favorites as well as something new.
“There are a lot of authentic Mexican dishes on our menu, but we also try to set ourselves apart,” Lemus said. “We differentiate ourselves from other Mexican restaurants by offering items like our tableside guacamole, street tacos, shish kabobs, tortas, a great hamburger, chipotle cheese dip, white rice, steamed vegetables, fiesta shrimp with bacon and Redneck Nachos.”
Lemus’ personal favorites include El Agave’s shish kabobs, which are chargrilled over an open flame, and the street tacos, because he can mix and match the meats and order as many as he wants.
Lemus may have a business degree, but he believes a restaurant career has always been his calling.
“I’ve worked in restaurants since I was 14 years old. My first job was taking chips to the table,” Lemus said. “I wish I could put into words what I’m attempting to do; I guess I feel like I’m part of the new generation. I’m trying to push new ideas without losing our Mexican roots.”
El Agave Mexican Grill is located in the Oxford Galleria I shopping center at 2305 W. Jackson Avenue and open every day from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. (10:30 p.m. weekends). For more information, visit elagaveoxford.com, find them on Facebook, or call 662-539-7011.
For information on the Galleria I shopping center or other local restaurant/retail opportunities, contact Trezevant Realty’s Taylor Lovitt at 601-466-2009.
Liz Barrett Foster is the EatingOxford editor for HottyToddy.com, an award-winning business journalist and author of the recently published Pizza: A Slice of American History. Liz ran the popular restaurant information site EatingOxford.com from 2009 to 2015. Liz can be reached at email@example.com.