FORT WORTH -- It's lunch hour at Le's Wok in Fort Worth, and business is booming. But getting to this point has been painful in so many ways.
"As any business in the beginning, nobody knew that we’re here," said owner Nina Pham. "It's been very, very slow."
Pham and her husband, Le Nguyen, opened this mainly-Vietnamese restaurant inside their "7 AM Market" convenience store on Rosedale and Lipscomb in Fort Worth in October. It was a move they felt forced to make, when a larger chain convenience store moved in down the street.
"We decided to do something different to survive in this area," Pham said.
But survival for this mom-and-pop shop, which they've owned for 20 years, took on a literal meaning last month.
Nguyen was brutally attacked during a robbery, beaten over the head with a plastic drink crate. The suspects got away with $20 to $30 from a tip jar. Scars now show where Nguyen's head was stapled and stitched shut. He has more than $10,000 in hospital bills.
"The ER doctor said that this is a miracle he doesn’t have any brain damage," Pham said.
As Fort Worth police arrested two people for the robbery, word began to spread in this tight-knit community. Facebook posts on local pages let people know what happened, and urged people to support the family and their new business.
"Almost immediately on our neighborhood’s Facebook page, people started making comments like, 'Hey, did you hear about what happened at Le's Wok?'" said neighbor Veronica Villegas.
And just like that, people finally discovered this culinary gem tucked away inside a convenience store. Slim Jims and spring rolls, Pringles and pork banh mi.
"Before I knew it, I was here, too, and I've been coming back ever since," Villegas continued.
"These are good people," said diner Doug Laing. "It has a good feel in here."
Pham and her family are stunned. She lists too many people to count when telling you who has helped out in this tough time. She mentions a local bar - the Chat Room - has been especially wonderful. They put out a tip jar at the bar for the family, and have been patronizing the restaurant for weeks now.
"I just want to thank everyone," Pham said. "We’re very grateful to be here. And we’re very grateful to everyone."
Her husband, Le, didn't say much during our time together, but did say this, humbled, "I'm very happy we have all this support. I'm very happy to see it."
He is recovering from his injuries, but still suffers from dizziness and headaches.
And now, a new challenge with the newly-found success.
"I'm trying my darned best to remember all my regular names," Pham said.
All things considered, an OK problem to have.
You can visit Le's Wok at 812 W. Rosedale in Fort Worth. It is closed Sundays.