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Abilene small business welcomes refugees into the family

Flaubert and Purna pictured at Hashi’s south side location with Bhanu Ghalley, Employment Specialist at the IRC in Abilene.

As the son of a restaurant owner, Abilene native Philip Cheung was determined to carry on his family legacy by opening a restaurant that focused on good food, and family values. In 2014 he opened Hashi Teppan on the south side of the Key City. He extended his commitment to family to local refugees, several which he employs now.

 “For me the refugees are such a blessing, it’s hard to find hardworking people...the refugees look after our business and realize the importance in taking care of their work.” Cheung remarks.

“Refugees increase productivity, cleanliness, and morale. They don’t just come to work, they come to work and put on a good attitude, any small business that hires refugees will see a positive impact.”

The kitchen manager at Hashi’s south side location is Purna Bhujel.

Purna arrived to the United States as a refugee from Bhutan in 2009. After several years of hard work and commitment, he became the kitchen manager at another local restaurant with which the Cheungs were affiliated. When it came time for Cheung to open his own restaurant, he knew that Purna would be up for the task.

“From day one he did a spectacular job.” Cheung says, reflecting on Hashi’s opening in December of 2014, “[Purna] is one of the hardest working people I have ever met.”

Three of Bhujel’s children also work at Hashi, carrying on Cheung’s legacy of inclusion of family in local business and extending the same legacy of welcome to the refugee community.