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Bankrupt To Booming: Stranger Gives Chef A Chance

PLYMOUTH (WCCO) -- Ketsana's Thai Food Restaurants shut their doors in Richfield and St. Paul in 2007 for what the owner called personal reasons. A perfect stranger, however, decided to take her business from nearly bankrupt to booming.

The secret to a good restaurant is simple. Ketsana Subanphim said she's learned it's to be ready for hard work.

"I cook, I clean, I serve, I do everything," Subanphim said.

When her restaurants closed, Subanphim worked at a Burger King to support her teenage son and make ends meet.

"I had no choice," Subanphim said.

That's when Darrell Sykes, a counselor at a church in Plymouth, entered. He received a phone call from Subanphim manager at Burger King asking for help.

"It was just one of those things that, if you've ever had your heart strings pulled on, well, she pulled my heart strings," Sykes said.

He said a nagging feeling to do something stayed with him for weeks.

"I finally sent an e-mail out to some friends, and I just told 'em what I was thinking, that this lady needed to get a life back, and would they help me," Sykes said.

Without even having a bite of her food, he asked three other men to help him invest in the restaurant: a physician, an engineer and a stock broker. They ended up coming up with $130,000.

"None of us knew anything about a restaurant," Sykes said.

Now, the new restaurant is up and running in Plymouth, located on 16605 County Road 24.

"It means so much. Just like God give me a new life," Subanphim said.

A huge part of her customer base are customers who used to dine at her old restaurants 10 years ago. They say it's worth it to make the trek for her signature dishes.

The investors said they plan to use any money that they make from the restaurant to help someone else, and pay it forward again.

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