WINTER PARK, Fla. — A Winter Garden-area restaurant owner is paying it forward by lifting others up, even when its own community is the target of attacks. and promoting positivity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What You Need To Know

  • Viet-nomz in Winter Park is partnering with other restaurants

  • It recently donated 75 chicken rice bowls to health-care workers at Orange County Convention Center

  • Viet-nomz is joining local restaurants in a campaign to stop Asian hate

“I feel that a warm meal can make anyone’s day,” said Chris Chen, a partner of Viet-nomz.

That is the mission behind the two locally owned restaurants. Viet-nomz serves Vietnamese food with a modern twist.

“When I see people eat our food, it’s a great feeling,” Chen said.

It’s a feeling that Chen hasn’t always felt this past year. The pandemic created a lot of changes — from customers ordering more takeout to the difficult conversations of anti-Asian sentiment across the country.

“It’s been pretty upsetting just seeing the news, the current events that are happening,” Chen shared.

Chen has taken on this challenge by connecting even more through cuisine.

“I truly believe that food is the bringer of all cultures together, you know?” Chen said.

Chen and his partners are also connecting by giving back to the community. During a time when many Asian-Americans say they feel attacked and alone, Chen is focusing on inclusion instead of isolation, lifting others up through food.

The restaurant's latest initiative is donating 75 chicken rice bowls to health-care workers vaccinating people at the Orange County Convention Center.

“We can just be more generous to the next person," Chen said. "I think we can always do more, so we just wanted to set a good example just for ourselves.”

Chen said he and his partners are looking to team up with other local restaurants to create a campaign to stop Asian-American hate.

That is an example set by this Everyday Hero that leading with love can make all the difference. ​