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Asheboro restaurant owner overcoming critics

ASHEBORO, N.C. -- Around noon Friday came the lunch rush at Simply Asian Thai & Sushi in Asheboro.

A room full of customers is a sight owner Rina Pheng has been waiting for.

“It has always been my dream. I’m going to open a restaurant,” she said.

She has been leading the helm as the restaurant’s new owner since Aug. 1.

At first, it wasn’t clear if the risk would be worth it.

Initially, she says she didn’t have many customers -- forcing her to get out into the community and spread the word.

“I printed all the menus to go and then [went] to the neighborhood and offices non-stop,” she said.

She’s now starting to develop a following, including some “regulars.”

Even with experiencing a solid boost in business, Pheng says she still has to fight skepticism as a female entrepreneur.

“We’re having a hard time with finding people to work because sometimes they feel like, ‘The business is not going to stay long because she’s a girl,'” she explained.

Pheng is determined to prove the critics wrong.

She says her family is her motivation to keep going.

Pheng came to the United States from Cambodia in 2007. Her family still lives there.

She has been able to support her family back home by working in the United States.

“I just keep that in mind. I’m hungry, they’re hungry. If I fail, the whole family has failed,” she said.

She balances the many demands on her as a boss, wife and mom by also focusing on her son’s future.

“If you calculate your time, this is the time for him, this is the time for you to pursue your dreams so you can have more opportunity to bring a good life to your family,” she said.

“Just don’t be scared. Just go for it,” she added.

Pheng says she wants her customers to give her honest feedback so she can make any necessary improvements.

She credits her success to a strong support system, including her husband who encouraged her to buy the restaurant.