Kaysville embraces Orlando’s through challenging times.Jul 08, 2021 02:07PM ● By Karmel Harper
Nanette and Orlando Lujan of Orlando’s Mexican Restaurant. Photo courtesy of Nanette Lujan
When she is not fly fishing, antiquing, biking, camping, or tending her plants, Nanette Lujan can be found at Orlando’s Mexican Restaurant which is named after her husband. Pronounced “Or-lawn-doh” and not “Or-land-oh,” the Kaysville favorite is located at 141 N. Main Street and is best known for their Honey Lime Chicken Flautas, Chile Verde, #6 dinner, and salads.
Married for 40 years with four kids and two grandkids, Nanette and Orlando have been in the restaurant business for decades. Nanette has grown up in the restaurant world as her mother, Joanie Putnam, owned and operated Joanie’s restaurant in Kaysville until she sold it to Annie’s Diner (previously Granny Annie’s) in 2002. Joanie’s father, Nanette’s grandfather, owned Hap’s Hamburgers in Salt Lake City.
The opening of Orlando’s was not on the couple’s radar as they had both worked at a different Mexican restaurant for many years. After Nanette worked there for 32 years and Orlando worked there for 42 years, the couple was expected to take over until ownership changes forced the couple out in 2014. While they were bereft of employment and the place they dedicated most of their lives to, they were also equipped with the knowledge and experience to open up their own restaurant. Through the help of family and friends, the couple accumulated enough capital – both financially and creatively through fresh and new menu items completely different from their previous restaurant – to open Orlando’s on July 13, 2015, just months after they were ousted from their previous place.
While the first few years were challenging as the couple faced constant hurdles from power outages, broken ovens, a crumbling parking lot, and computer problems, they worked hard to establish a welcoming environment, a wonderful and enthusiastic staff, a delicious menu, and a strong, supportive clientele that were instrumental in Orlando’s survival during the pandemic. But pivoting their business to 100% take-out that fateful day in March 2020 when lockdown began was quite challenging as they had to completely reconfigure their kitchen and staff to operate in uncharted business territory.
“It was a steep learning curve and we were so fortunate because our menu lends itself well to take-out,” Lujan said. “Our phone was ringing off the hook for orders. Kaysville has been extremely supportive. If they were not, we probably would have closed.”
Regular customers credit the popularity of Orlando’s not just for their delicious menu, but primarily for the warmth and friendship of the owners. Nanette enjoys getting to know her customers intimately and even spent Mother’s Day last month with a close friend who was initially a customer.
Tara Esplin of Kaysville said, “She must know thousands of names and stories of her customers. They all love her and are so happy to see her. She talks to every one of them like they are part of her family. She's very involved in the community, supportive of other business owners, and always makes a point to hire tradesmen from Kaysville if she can so she can give back to the city that has welcomed her so well.” Personal touches of connection to their customers are also provided by her staff as evidenced by the friendly service of their servers to the fun hand-drawn messages on their take-out bags.
Orlando’s Restaurant opened to full capacity in May. After not seeing many of her customers in person for over a year, Nanette is excited to see everyone again. Orlando’s is located at 141 N. Main Street in Kaysville. Visit http://www.orlandosonmain.com.