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Lorin "Lorenzo"

Lorin “Lorenzo” left his small town of Oildale, California in 1958 at the age of 17 to set out after his entrepreneurial dreams. From humble beginnings working for a small wage of just five cents per hour picking strawberries, he eventually joined Cesar Chavez on his march of protest before ultimately finding his calling in the restaurant industry.

 Over the next seven years, Lorenzo would go on to work as a dishwasher, a prep cook, line cook, and eventually head chef. Still not satisfied, he also trained in the front of the house as a busboy, server, and was then promoted to management soon specializing in coordinating large events and catering at a well-known Mexican restaurant.

During this time, Lorenzo traveled extensively throughout Mexico and became passionate about Mexican culture and food. He then realized he wanted to share what he had learned about Mexican cuisine with the world. Saving up every last penny that he could, Lorenzo was eventually able to purchase the tiny, 1,200-square-foot space that would become the first Little Onion in Hawthorne, CA in 1963. After a few successful years, he took his family to Orange County where he opened the second Little Onion in October of 1972 here in Santa Ana where he grew his business for the next 40 years.

Thanks to dedicated employees and customers that are like part of the family, the Little Onion Mexican Restaurant has successfully weathered rough times and celebrated many wonderful memories.

Lorin “Lorenzo”


a woman

Lori Rowe

Since Lorenzo’s retirement in 2011, his daughter Lori has spent every day ensuring that his dream and the passionate spirit that helped create the Little Onion lives on forever. In the words of Lorenzo, “Never, ever give up”. The Little Onion family will always share his passion for the cuisine of Mexico with our patrons. Lorenzo will always be missed, but his spirit and legacy live on.