Van Nolintha began applying for jobs at the height of the recession after finishing both undergraduate school and graduate school. After being turned down nearly 300 times, he and his younger sister, Vanvisa, returned to his home country, Laos, to reconnect with their roots. Much of his early life centered around food, so when he returned to the U.S. to Raleigh, N.C., he decided to start a restaurant. He bought a copy of "How to Open a Restaurant for Dummies" and sent heartfelt emails to several of the most highly regarded restaurant owners in Raleigh, asking for advice and mentoring. They all agreed to help. In 2012, with little capital and lots of sweat, donations, and help from friends, Van and Vanvisa opened Bida Manda, and today it's one of the most loved restaurants in Raleigh. Of all of the stories I've heard from 5 years of interviewing restaurant owners, this is the most memorable...
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