Immigrant Success: Leoh Sandoval talks Aguas Way, launching Long Beach Designers and becoming a naturalized citizen

This profile on North Long Beach restaurateur and designer Lionso “Leoh” Sandoval is part of a series exploring the successes of immigrants in Long Beach. Immigrant Success is a collaborative podcast project between Long Beach Post and Long Beach Post reporter Stephanie Rivera is the podcast host and Antonio Ruiz is the producer.

Leoh Sandoval, whose full first name is Lionso, is a North Long Beach restaurateur and designer. Sandoval is the co-owner of Aguas Way in North Long Beach, a Mexican street food restaurant that opened in 2017 and specializes in Aguas Frescas.

Despite not having previous knowledge in managing a restaurant, Leoh Sandoval successfully opened Aguas Way with the help of his family and friends as well as his own knowledge in designing and building residential, commercial and industrial structures. His skills in design began when Sandoval moved to Phoenix after high school to attend an architectural trade school.

In 2019, after years of working with a local architect, Sandoval decided to venture on his own and began his business, Long Beach Designers, with an office right next door to Aguas Way.

At North Long Beach restaurant, relatives grow their bond and their skills

While Sandoval was born in Michoacán, Mexico, the only life he’s known is that as a Long Beach resident since he was 5 years old. He graduated from Patrick Henry Elementary School, Washington Middle School, and Millikan High School.

Last August, Leoh became a naturalized citizen, a decision he made because of the current state of the country and to make sure that he is not separated from his young family.

“It feels good to be able to vote now,” Sandoval said. “It gives me more power to make decisions now.”

Long Beach Post reporter Stephanie Rivera speaks with Leoh Sandoval at Aguas Way. Photo by Antonio Ruiz.

Show notes:

00:45 Leoh talks about becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen.

10:25 Leoh shares his experience in becoming an architectural designer.

20:28 Leoh speaks about working hard to get out of poverty and opening Aguas Way.

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Stephanie Rivera is the immigration and diversity reporter for the Long Beach Post. After graduating from CSULB with a degree in journalism, Stephanie worked for Patch Latino and City News Service before coming to the Long Beach Post in 2015.