Thi Tram Nguyen is no stranger to thriving in spite of adversity, and it’s this bright and brave spirit that imbues Nguyen’s work to empower special needs employees at her new restaurant, Chez Francois Poutinerie, in downtown Naperville.

Nguyen, who fled war-torn Vietnam by boat when she was just 8 years old, eventually found refuge in Canada, where she fell in love with the comfort food poutine. Her Canadian upbringing, coupled with her love of her son, Francois, 17, who has autism, inspired Nguyen to open Chez Francois Poutinerie to bring a brighter future to young adults with special needs.

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