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Restaurant re-opens after owner's murder

Published: Mar. 11, 2011 at 11:28 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 21, 2011 at 10:28 PM EDT
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By Jack Kuenzie - bio | email

FOREST ACRES, SC (WIS) - It was a bittersweet day for operators of a Columbia restaurant.

Dino's on Decker Boulevard re-opened its doors for the first time since the restaurants owner was shot and killed by a robber 17 days ago.

The only visible reminder of what happened at the restaurant was a wreath marking the spot where authorities believe 23-year-old Mario Stokes robbed, shot and killed owner Steve Kim last month. His daughter said Kim's family thought long and hard about re-opening the restaurant. "It was a difficult decision for my mom because part of her wanted to just, you know, rest," said daughter Jane Long, "And part of her has a sense of mission and responsibility still. And so after many family talks, she finally felt like she wanted to go back and re-open."

Getting Dino's ready to re-open was a labor of love for Steve Kim's family. But it also took some hard work and dedication. Family members were still installing the new flooring at 5:00am Friday.

Customers responded, lining up to place their lunchtime orders.

Before the shutdown, Dianna McCoy had been eating at Dino's three times a week. "Because I love their chicken," said McCoy.

Jeff Numberger can identify with the Kim family. In 1997, his sister-in-law Peggy was murdered by two men during a robbery at a Fatz Café on Forest Drive. "It's always nice when people come together and support you and help you out," said Numberger.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott was also among the family's friends Friday. "I hate it that it takes a tragedy like this for our community to come together," said Sheriff Lott, "But we've seen it. We've seen the community wrap their arms around Mr. Kim's family and support them during the hard times, and we will continue to support them."

Steve Kim's wife of more than 30 years will continue to take an active role in the operation and management of Dino's on Decker. But the family is taking steps to sell off a second Dino's location in Irmo.

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