Our Story

Lorin “Lorenzo” left his small town of Oildale, California in 1958 at the age of 17 in order 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, a line cook, and, eventually, as head chef. Still not satisfied, he also trained in the front of the house as a busboy, then a server, and was even 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 quite passionate about Mexican culture and food. It was then that he realized his dream to share his passion by becoming a restaurateur of fresh, authentic, Mexican cuisine, providing great service at a great price to 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, California in 1969. 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. He has successfully grown the Little Onion for over 40 years.

Thanks to dedicated employees and customers that are like part of the family, the Little Onion has successfully weathered rough financial times, and celebrated many wonderful memories. Since Lorenzo’s retirement in 2011, his daughter Lori has spent each 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 will never give up on making sure that we prepare and serve fresh, authentic, Mexican cuisine, and provide great service at a great price. Lorin “Lorenzo” will always be missed, but his spirit and legacy live on.

1941 – 2014