No one would blame Varut Phimolmas if he and his wife were feeling a little bit down after the business that they've spent the past 16 years building was destroyed in the blink of an eye. That's exactly what happened on October 9, though. A fire broke out in one of the apartment rentals above the popular Thai restaurant Cilantro.

"It's positive energy that helps us move on," Phimolmas said. "We cannot change the past, but what we do in the present or in the future is what's important."

Varut remembers trying to clear his eyes as members of the Marion Police Department knocked on his door in the middle of the night to deliver the bad news about the fire.

"It's a small town, so they know where I live," he said. "By the time we go there though, there was nothing we could do but watch."

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It wasn't the fire that destroyed the Thai restaurant. Unfortunately, the firefighters were forced to cut through the roof and use their powerful hoses to extinguish the fire, leaving the first floor restaurant saturated.

"It was like a waterfall," Phimolmas said.

The following Monday, insurance adjusters visited the property and deemed that the building was so badly damaged that it would have to be completely knocked down. Realistically, this means that it would take a year or so to work out the insurance payment and a year or so to rebuild the structure.

Michael Rock/Townsquare Media
Michael Rock/Townsquare Media

"Honestly, my wife and I were thinking of moving the restaurant to a different town," Phimolmas said. "It's expensive to live and run a business in Marion. But after what this community has done for us, we said we just need to stay."

The couple has received a number of donations from local residents to help them bridge the gap between now and when they receive their first insurance check, which can take a long time – especially when you are counting on it for income.

"This is the only Thai restaurant around here," Philmolmas said. "So we have committed to keeping the business in Marion. We are looking at a couple of different spots, but it will definitely stay in town."

"We just keep thinking positive. It's positive energy that helps us move on. We cannot change the past, but what we do in the present or in the future is what's important," Phimolmas said.  "Every problem has a solution, every crisis an opportunity. This could be a chance for us to improve our business. Yesterday might have been cloudy and raining, but today there are sunny skies."

You can find out about ways to help get Cilantro back on its feet on the restaurant's Facebook page.

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