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Restaurant owner gives recovering addicts jobs, chance to start over

By Emily Nichols

Small business owner and operator of Coriander Café Chris Le knows the importance of a second chance.

Le’s parents immigrated to the U.S. as refugees from Vietnam 30 days before the end of the Vietnam War, taking a dangerous chance to start their lives over again.  Knowing little English in a foreign country, Le’s parents found respite through a church group in South Dakota who sponsored and took them in for four years.  Because of his parent’s courage, Le knows the value of second chances, and he wants to give people battling addiction the opportunity to rebuild their lives.

“We’ve had addicts,” Le said.  “We’ve had people in recovery.  Most of the time, they are the best workers because they have not been able to get a job.”

Where other businesses may see a former drug or alcohol addict, Le sees human beings who deserve food on their table, a paycheck and the ability to provide for themselves.

“A lot of these guys have been jobless eight or nine months because nobody will hire them, so they’re desperate,” Le said.

“And it’s this cycle.  Well if they can’t get a job, they’re going to fall back into it because they have to support themselves.  They still have to find money to buy things or steal things.  So what I have is a kitchen job.  It’s not rocket science.”

When told about Le’s initiative to hire people other businesses in the area have turned down, Coriander Café customer Emily Schupack said it further elevated her already positive opinion of the restaurant.

“I really like that he’s using the opportunities his business has given him to provide work for people who really need it or just use the platform he has to make a statement,” Schupack said.

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