A popular Lubbock restaurant is closed as the pandemic doubles down on the family-run business.
At first, it was just indoor dining closed at Thai Pepper. Now, its doors remain closed as one of its co-owners has died from complications of COVID-19.
Owner Trakool 'Kool' Srivarodom was the "heart and soul" of the restaurant. When the popular joint opened in the medical district, it was a bigger hit than the family expected.
Even though it was closed to indoor dining throughout the pandemic, customers still came flocking for take-out.
Then, in late November, tragedy struck when Srivarodom become ill with COVID-19.
In a Facebook post his daughter said one week later he was in the hospital, where he eventually needed to be intubated. He died Tuesday evening.
Support from dedicated customers have poured in, even from ones that don't live in the area anymore, like Kayla West.
"Every time I would go home for break, I would walk in and they would like have my usual set out, like on the table when I sat down," she said.
A GoFundMe has raised more than $9,500 to help the family pay bills.
Taryn Colvin, another customer, donated as well.
"I was just devastated. Both selfishly, because I love the restaurant, I love the food. But also the battle. I know what they're going through, what they're fighting through. And I hate that for anyone, she said.
"And even if the restaurant doesn't open back up, they're obviously an amazing family," West said.
The restaurant has been closed since Nov. 29th, the day of 'Kool's' diagnosis. Its future remains up in the air.
According to the GoFundMe, the family "can't foresee the business continuing" in the wake of Srivarodom's absence.
Contributions to the family can be made at https://www.gofundme.com/f/thai-pepper-miracle