Today is Saturday, August 19, 2017

Giving with all his heart

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Restaurant owner Michael Lewis. DALLUS WHITFIELD / The Wilson Post

It really is better to give - or as restaurant owner Michael Lewis put it - "give back."

Lewis hosted a group of veterans at Southern Kitchen on Tuesday and provided them with the holiday meal they deserve. Each veteran was treated to dinner and a gift.

"It was something that I have been praying a lot about - doing more things for the community.

The veteran's home is next door and they come over as a group and visit me twice a month. We teamed up with Walmart, who donated the gifts," he said. Gifts included shoes, clothing, radios, toiletries and more.

"This is a Christian business. We try to be here for our community," Lewis added.

Pickett Rucker United Methodist Church Pastor Michael Ruttlen commended Lewis on giving back to the veterans who have served our country. Ruttlen is a Navy veteran and served in the Gulf War.

"People don't know the sacrifices you've made. Veterans just want to be recognized and have someone say, 'Thank you,'" he said.

Lewis worked as a Manager at Walmart for 10 years before opening Southern Kitchen.

"I have always enjoyed cooking and always helped my grandmother cook. Being a manager at Walmart didn't leave me with a whole lot of time, but I did things on my days off. I just found joy in making food for people," he said.

When his health declined, Lewis left Walmart to purse a new path. He opened his restaurant originally in Watertown.

"My dad and I remodeled it and made it a cozy spot," he said. However traveling to and from Watertown from his Lebanon home was straining, as well. He moved the restaurant to Lebanon in February 2014.

Lewis received a call over the summer that he would be the recipient of a heart transplant. He had surgery on June 13 and spent three months at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota doing mandatory rehab. He returned to Lebanon on Sept. 9.

"People have been great at supporting us."

Southern Kitchen is located at 312 Cedar Street in Lebanon.

Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at sgarrett@wilsonpost.com.

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