It’s not often that employees use the phrase “father figure” to describe their relationships with their supervisors, but that’s how Stephen Zeininger feels about Cam Loo at Wei Li restaurant in Auburn. After serving time in prison, Zeininger had difficulty finding a job and starting his life anew. Cam was the only person who would give him a chance when he hired him as a cook in his restaurant. Today, over five years later, Zeininger is still one of seventeen dedicated members of the Wei Li team.
“He gave me an opportunity,” Zeininger expressed his reverence for Loo. “He knew how to [help] somebody that had a bad path ahead of him and change it to a better one.”
After just a brief visit to Wei Li, it’s clear that this is not like any other restaurant. There is a feeling of family from the moment guests are greeted at the door. The restaurant actively volunteers in the community, hosting fundraisers like a Chinese New Year buffet to raise money for the local hospital. Perhaps this is Loo’s way of returning the hospitality he felt was extended to him when he moved to Maine.
“I came here and the first thing I saw was a person who greeted me,” Loo remembered. “They said ‘Hi.’ I’d never seen that happen before, especially where we lived in Los Angeles. It was truly the people who brought me here.”
Despite the clear impact he has made, Loo humbly insists that he can’t take credit for the restaurant’s success. Instead, he cites the ambition of his business partner, Lilly Huang. After just three years of living in the U.S., Huang learned English, earned her GED, and graduated from college. Inspired by her drive, Loo joined Huang in opening a restaurant. Sixteen years later, they continue to live their version of the American Dream. From Ho Chi Min City to Androscoggin County, Wei Li restaurant is setting an example for business owners everywhere by reaching their goals and sharing their success with the community.
Visit Wei Li restaurant at 945 Center Street in Auburn.