Emil Angelo Villa (April 15, 1899 – June 15, 1986) was the founder of Emil Villa's Hickory Pit restaurant.


Emil Villa was born Angelo Emilio Villa in 1899 in Italy. He came to from Italy to Oakland in 1915, via New York.

Emil married Arvilla Catherine Hiles (Villa) (October 24, 1901 – September 15, 1981) on August 25, 1926, in Oakland, and they had at least one child, Marilyn Villa.

In 1933, the family lived at 907 Union Street in Alameda.


c.1918, Emil was working as a baker for Stefano (Steve) Persoglio, and also living at 4298 Telegraph - which was the address of the Liberty Baking Company.1 Persoglio, a baker who lived nearby at 521 - 46th Street, was partners with his father-in-law, Cesare Orio, running the Liberty Bakery. They also ran a nearby grocery store, 2 likely the same one that Emil and his brother James later took over.

In the 1920s, Emil and James ran the New Liberty Grocery (aka Villa Brothers) at 4228 Telegraph. Mrs. Villa would cook lunch for them in the kitchen behind the store and around lunchtime, local deliverymen delivering produce, dairy, etc to the store would be invited to have some. Her cooking and undoubtedly Emil's bbq'g became so popular that the Villa's opened a restaurant down the street.

In 1928, Emil opened the first barbecue restaurant nearby at 4392 Telegraph.

Links and References

  1. Directory of California Manufacturers, 1924
  2. Italian Oakland Images of America by Rick Malaspina