Ninfa Laurenzo: Taco Maker Turned Millionaire

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NBC Nightly News
John Palmer/Sandy Gilmour
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Video News Report
NBCUniversal Media, LLC.
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Maria Ninfa Rodriguez Laurenzo overcomes hard times to build a 30 million dollar business from a tiny taco stand to a Mexican restaurant chain.



"Ninfa Laurenzo: Taco Maker Turned Millionaire." Sandy Gilmour, correspondent. NBC Nightly News. NBCUniversal Media. 23 May 1981. NBC Learn. Web. 17 January 2015.


Gilmour, S. (Reporter), & Palmer, J. (Anchor). (1981, May 23). Ninfa Laurenzo: Taco Maker Turned Millionaire. [Television series episode]. NBC Nightly News. Retrieved from


"Ninfa Laurenzo: Taco Maker Turned Millionaire" NBC Nightly News, New York, NY: NBC Universal, 05/23/1981. Accessed Sat Jan 17 2015 from NBC Learn:


Ninfa Laurenzo: Taco Maker Turned Millionaire

JOHN PALMER, anchor:

And finally, some good news. It’s still possible to get rich in America, and you don’t need to be a baseball player to do it. All you need is a little dough, the kind you make tacos with. Sandy Gilmour reports on a taco maker turned millionaire in Houston, Texas.

SANDY GILMOUR reporting:

She has turned 57 and Maria Ninfa Rodriguez Laurenzo is now a millionaire, a corporate patriarch of a thirty million dollar a year business in stylish Mexican food and potent margaritas. Eight years ago, she was struggling to save the family’s failing tortilla factory. Her husband had died, she was in debt, she had five children, and she prayed.

MARIA LAURENZO: I was very desperate. I used to walk into my walk-in closet that I had and kneel down and prayed. And one night, shortly thereafter, I dreamt that I had a little taco stand.

GILMOUR: Ninfa believes God answered her prayer. The taco stand became a trendy hit, an in-place so jammed with customers that she built another one in 1975. By the end of this year, there will be eighteen restaurants in Texas and California. Today, Momma Ninfa is everywhere, checking out the kitchen where tortillas are still made by hand, greeting customers, talking about her special recipes, and about her philosophy of sharing her blessings with family and employees.

LAURENZO: I don’t look at the business in terms of money. I look at it in terms of the fulfillment that I’ve been able to give myself and give to others.

GILMOUR: Countless relatives are involved along with her five well-educated children, from Gino, the youngest, to Roland, the 33-year-old president.

ROLAND LAURENZO: We really enjoy what we’re doing. We really like being in the restaurant business.

GILMOUR: So do employees, who are well-trained, well-paid and given bonuses and opportunity. It’s the way Ninfa wants it. On her 57th birthday, she said, “I’m just an example of what anyone can do in America.”