Thursday, September 8, 2011

In remembrance of an outstanding employee

[This was read at Anousone's funeral]

When I was 18, I spent six of the worst years of my life in Southeast Asia. I was a Hospital Corpsman in the U.S. Navy. That was long before Anousone Phanthavong was born, but the bitter aftermath of the war I was in was still being settled in Laos when Anousone was growing up. Seeing what I saw when I was only 18 has haunted me all my life. Sometimes, after talking to Ped, I would realize that he saw many of those same things when he was barely able to walk, and that the violence of war was part of his life growing up in Laos.

War makes people hard, and it is easy to lose your compassion. Ped was not a hard man. He was compassionate and filled with empathy for others. But, again, war makes people hard, and Ped ran with a hard crowd for a while. Usually, that's the end of the story but those stories don't end in a crowded funeral chapel filled with over 300 family and friends.

Ped turned around his life, overcame the obstacles fate placed in his path, and became all that he could be. Yes, he cooked a meal for Bono, but he also cooked meals for many famous people (Brad Pitt, the Coen Brothers, Sade, etc.). Mostly he cooked for people who loved the way he cooked, and came back night after night to try new dishes made special by Ped's unique talents.

The measure of Anousone Phanthavong is not just what he accomplished, as significant as those things were. The true measure of Anousone Phanthavong is that he overcame so much, and yet still managed to accomplish so much more.

[posted by Charles Whitney Jr, co-owner, True Thai Restaurant]

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

In remembrance of our coworker

Ped was the kindest person any of us had ever met. He was filled with compassion for others.

When he came in he would cook for his coworkers. He would never cook for himself until everyone else was eating. Ped hated to eat alone, and he loved to make other people happy with his cooking. Ped would even come into the restaurant on his days off to cook just for the employees.

When Ped got mad, he would never be mad for longer than one minute. He was a gentle, caring, compassionate person, and everyone loved working with him.

Ped called all of the women at True Thai "sister." But all of us, male and female, looked up to Ped as our big brother. Because of Ped, working at True Thai was liking being part of a big family. Ped was our role model and, for some of us, he was our hero.

We will miss you Ped.

We will always miss you, big brother.

[posted by "Golf"]

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Closed Labor Day

True Thai Restaurant will be closed all day Monday, September 5, in honor of Labor Day.

True Thai honors and respects our employees who are our most valuable resource.

True Thai Restaurant will be open again on September 6th. Please accept our wishes for a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend.

Thank you all so much!

So many things to thank so many people for:

  • cash donations to Ped's family
  • gifts of flowers (all white!)
  • everyone who wore white to the funeral
  • all those who put a $20 bill in the casket (for gas money)
  • the standing room only crowd at the funeral home
  • everyone who came to True Thai afterwords to console the family

I was so busy I didn't even have time to think about how we were going to replace Ped, so he sent us a replacement. Three of them, in fact! Word has gotten out that True Thai treats our employees like family, and there are a lot of cooks in town who would like to be loved.

Last Saturday night I was exhausted and thought I had seen it all. Then Sunday night, the day after Ped's funeral, the restaurant was packed with people who came to express their sympathy. I was too tired to panic but as the evening progressed I realized the new cook was working just as fast as Ped, and that she had already learned all our recipes. I think maybe Ped was whispering in her ear because it does not seem possible that anyone could do so well their first night on the job.

I was not sure how True Thai would survive without Ped, but the truth is he is still with us, watching over us. There is no other explanation how we could have served so many people Sunday night with an emotionally exhausted staff and owners.

Ped is still watching out for his family and friends, and we are all still deeply grieved by his passing. If you would like to make a donation to his family, you can mail or drop it off at True Thai Restaurant. Our mailing address is:

True Thai Restaurant
Ped's Memorial Fund
2627 E. Franklin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55406

Checks should be made out to "True Thai c/o Memorial Fund."

The Mercedes the Highway Patrol was looking for has been found and they have identified the driver. There have been no charges as of yet. Ped was the primary breadwinner for his elderly parents, and any donation would be greatly appreciated.