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Restaurant owner thrives after tornado

By Kyle Benjamin, kbenjamin@wcyb.com
Published On: Apr 26 2013 04:56:51 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 26 2013 11:00:00 PM CDT

On Friday we had the chance to speak with a small business owner in Doe Valley, Tennessee who has bounced back stronger than before after the 2011 tornadoes nearly took everything away

DOE VALLEY, Tenn. -

Some local businesses were destroyed by the tornadoes in late April 2011.

On Friday we had the chance to speak with a small business owner in Doe Valley, Tennessee who has bounced back stronger than before. She shared her recovery story with us after she insisted our crew shared a class of sweet tea and some of her home cooking.

Two years ago the deadly tornado outbreak ripped the roof off Monsoons, a small building that dishes Thai food in Butler, Tennessee. We found a full house, repeat customers and friends of owner Prayoon Royston.

It's a one-woman show -- cook, waitress and hostess, she's back on her feet after the tornado nearly took everything. "[Customers] came back stronger. They came back strong," she told us.

Friends helped her rebuild; local churches held fundraisers. "I cooked 343 meals for them. It's the most food I've ever cooked," she recalled.

The Doe Valley community came together to help one of their own as well as their appetite. "Everybody says, 'I can't live without Thai food that long,'" Royston jokes.

She's thriving again, and she recently became an American citizen. She says she's glad to be able to serve customers a plate full of southern hospitality. "I love to do this. This is my home, I live here," she said. "December it will be 30 years. They call me a 'Thai hillbilly.' I'm proud to be a redneck!" she laughed.

We learned Prayoon started Monsoons after a friend asked her to cater a dinner for ten people. Her food was so well received that she decided to open a restaurant.

She tells us people come in from all over to dine with her.