We’ve known La Casa Garcia owner Frank Garcia is a great guy for a long time. His restaurant is one of the best Mexican-American joints in the county, and he’s also a tireless humanitarian, and the charity he established–the We Give Thanks Foundation–has been a force for incalculable good in the world.
“Frank Garcia is a true Mexi-mensch,” is how then-OC Weekling Gustavo Arellano put it in 2009. “[H]is annual We Give Thanks Thanksgiving dinners is the stuff of legend, and guarantees him a spot in heaven.”
On Aug. 16, Representative Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) said a lot more nice things about Garcia. The reason: Garcia just turned 75. Because Garcia actually is an all-around good guy, here are Correa’s complete remarks on him, taken directly from the Congressional Record:
Mr. CORREA. Madam Speaker, I rise today to honor the 75th birthday of Frank Garcia, my constituent, friend, and the founder and owner of La Casa Garcia.
Mr. Garcia and his wife, Sylvia Garcia, opened La Casa Garcia in 1973 and have since expanded to three locations in Orange County. La Casa Garcia and its authentic, delectable Mexican food has become a staple in our community over the past four decades. Beyond being a successful restaurateur, Mr. Garcia has also become a well-known philanthropist in Orange County as the founder of the We Give Thanks Foundation. Mr. Garcia’s passion for giving back earned him the Points of Light Foundation Medal from former President Bill Clinton. In addition, his restaurant, La Casa Garcia, received the designation of ‘‘Small Business of the Year’’ from California State Senator Tom Umberg.
Mr. Garcia began his career in the restaurant industry at the young age of 13 as a dishwasher in a restaurant in Texas. He also worked in the fields picking cotton and onion with his father, Luis Majin Garcia. During his time as a dishwasher, Mr. Garcia worked hard to master cooking skills and was soon promoted to chef himself. It was through these formative experiences that Mr. Garcia learned the value of hard work, the power of food as a way of bonding, and the importance of connecting with the community. Mr. Garcia credits God for his success and expresses his gratitude through every meal that he serves.
Growing up, his mother, Elvira Garza Garcia, one of the founders of LULAC, instilled in him a strong sense of philanthropy. After the success of La Casa Garcia, Mr. Garcia followed his mother’s philosophy of charity and founded We Give Thanks Inc., a nonprofit that has been hosting a Thanksgiving feast every year for the past 32 years. The annual We Give Thanks feast began as a small-scale event attended by a few thousand people in the parking lot of one of the La Casa Garcia restaurants. Since then, it has expanded to the lot of the Honda Center, where 1,500 volunteers serve around 17,000 people each year. It has become the largest Thanksgiving feast hosted in Orange County. Mr. Garcia’s dedication to serving others also extends beyond Orange County; when Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, Texas in 2017, Mr. Garcia participated in efforts to raise money for victims and personally flew out to Houston to provide hot meals for those in need and displaced by the hurricane.
In his 75 years of life, Mr. Garcia has become a beacon of light for the Orange County community. He is a constant and consistent supporter of numerous community events and has become known for his community service and volunteer work. His dedication for providing quality food and his passion for helping others brings warmth and comfort to the lives of Orange County locals every day. Mr. Garcia’s story is a moving example of the power of hard work, dedication, and charity. For these reasons, I ask my colleagues to join me in wishing Mr. Garcia many more years of health, success, and prosperity and in thanking him for his invaluable contributions and presence in our community. Happy Birthday.
Anthony Pignataro has been a journalist since 1996. He spent a dozen years as Editor of MauiTime, the last alt weekly in Hawaii. He also wrote three trashy novels about Maui, which were published by Event Horizon Press. But he got his start at OC Weekly, and returned to the paper in 2019 as a Staff Writer.