The Resilient Spirit of Orange County: A Local Restaurant Owner's Journey of Strength and Community

Lisa Mailhot  |  January 10, 2024


The Resilient Spirit of Orange County: A Local Restaurant Owner's Journey of Strength and Community


In the heart of Orange County, a story of resilience and community spirit unfolds at the Green Chile Cantina in Mission Viejo. Lina Esqueda, the owner of this vibrant eatery, is not just managing a restaurant; she's also in a fierce battle against stage three follicular helper T-cell lymphoma. This journey is not just about Lina's struggle but is a testament to the strength and unity of our community.

Lina's diagnosis came just days before the restaurant's opening, a challenging twist in what was supposed to be a celebratory time. Despite the physical and emotional toll of her treatments, Lina continues to contribute to her restaurant's operations, albeit from a distance. Her presence is felt in the flavors of the dishes, the warmth of the staff, and the ambiance of the place she dreamt up with her husband, Tony.

The Green Chile Cantina offers a blend of American and Mexican classics, reflecting the diverse culinary tapestry of Orange County. Items like "The Dodger" chicken sandwich and "Chorizo Fries" aren't just meals; they're pieces of a dream that Lina and Tony have nurtured over the years.


This journey is not Lina's alone. Her sister, Sophia Baro, stepped in to keep the dream alive, managing the front lines of the restaurant. The community of Mission Viejo, too, plays a crucial role. From long-time friends to new acquaintances, their support has been a source of strength for Lina and her family.


Lina's story goes beyond the confines of her restaurant. It mirrors the broader narrative of our community in Orange County — one of resilience, hope, and the collective spirit of support. It’s about the power of community in the face of adversity, and how we, as a community, come together to uplift one another.

If you're ever in Mission Viejo, a visit to the Green Chile Cantina is more than just a dining experience; it's a show of support for one of our own, a testament to the unyielding spirit of Orange County.

And for those who are captivated by this spirit and considering a move to Orange County, remember that our community is not just about places, but the people and stories behind them. If you're looking to be a part of this vibrant community, let's connect and explore the opportunities that await you here.



Reference: Bahnsen, Annika. "Balancing business and health, a Mission Viejo restaurant owner works to build a community." Edited by Dawn Bradbury, Reviewed by Liisa Rajala, Orange County Register, Jan. 9, 2024.

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