NAME: SONNY DIEP
Job: Owner, House of Hunan at 200 Southview Plaza, Suite 18, in O'Fallon (632-3322)
Outlook: "It's a lot of work, but I have a lot of fun."
Sonny and Carla Diep have been operating their Chinese restaurant in O'Fallon for 23 years. When they had to close for a couple months last fall when Sonny had hip replacement surgery, they learned how loyal their customer base was. Sonny recently talked to business writer Will Buss about it:
When were you closed?
"We shut down for a couple months during the months of October and November, so we just now opened back up."
How did you customers respond when you had to temporarily close?
"They kind of tried other places, but they said it was not the same, so they waited for me to come back. When we opened back up, we were full and packed. Everyone came back. We were pretty glad to see everybody."
What is Hunan-style Chinese food?
"It's spicy, what you call traditional spicy food. We do whatever the customer likes, spicy or not. We can do it both ways."
What are the most popular items on your menu?
"Over here, we sell a lot of stir fry dishes like beef with broccoli or Chicken Delight or house special chicken. Those are very popular items."
What is Chicken Delight?
"It's white meat chicken slices in stir fry with snow peas, bamboo shoots, carrots and mushrooms in brown sauce."
How did you get into this business?
"I was raised in a Chinese restaurant. So when I came to America, that's what I started doing and I went from there."
Is this the only job you've ever known?
What separates your business from others?
"Well, we cook everything fresh. We don't use MSG, and our food is more flavored than most restaurant food."
What is your favorite dish on your menu?
"I am more into vegetables and meat. I like beef and chicken."
What have you enjoyed most about your business?
"I love the people and the customers. They are more like friends than customers."
Contact reporter Will Buss at email@example.com or 239-2526.