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2016.037.020 Oral History Interview with Yvonne and Mike Thompson 2015/12/02

Yvonne and Mike Thompson are restaurant owners who started their small business in Pounding Mill, Virginia in 1979. Their restaurant, Cuzs, brought an unexpected combination of Southern homestyle cooking with Chinese cuisine to their small coal mining town. Yvonne was born and raised in Hong Kong and describes enjoying delicious home cooked meals as well as dim sum restaurants and banquets during her childhood. She later moved to St Louis, Missouri to attend college and work in her Uncle Wongs upscale Chinese restaurant The Lantern House. Eventually opening a barbeque restaurant on her husband Mikes family dairy farm, Yvonne explains how she gradually shaped their menu to include American Southern-Chinese fusion dishes like their popular cheese eggroll. Yvonne is proud of the cultural impact Cuzs has had on their small coal-mining community. Mike Thompson was born and grew up in Cedar Bluff, Virginia. While several of his family members became doctors and pursued the medical field, the family also owned and operated a large 5,000 acre farm. Mike fondly describes his childhood experiences of enjoying his mothers homestyle Southern cooking and hospitality. He goes on to describe how he opened Cuzs restaurant with his wife Yvonne on his familys farm. Mike notes that international travel has played a significant role in expanding his palette and improving his cooking.