When Mei Chen and her family left the Fujian Province of China a little over a decade and a half ago, they had a dream of coming to the United States and running a restaurant.
For seven years, they have operated the popular China Gourmet take-out restaurant in Colony Plaza shopping center.
Buoyed by the success of that location, the family recently opened Evergreen Buffet & Grill in Pinellas Plaza in The Villages.
But the opening of the brand-new restaurant has been soured by a malicious email circulating in The Villages, alleging that credit card numbers at the restaurant have been compromised.
Chen, the mother of three children attending the Villages Charter School, said the email, which is being circulated and recirculated in The Villages, is breaking her heart.
“If this has happened to anyone, they should come to the restaurant and we will make it right,” she said.
But she said no one has ever come to the restaurant and said their credit cards were misused.
She said she has even contacted law enforcement officials, who told her there was little they could do.
“We love The Villages. We have worked hard to build a restaurant here,” Chen said.
She said she became aware of the email on March 1. She fears that a competitor may have initiated the email in an attempt to damage her new restaurant before it has a chance to take off.
Still she remains grateful for the opportunities she and her family are enjoying here. She said they wouldn’t have had these opportunities in China.
“We love The Villages. It’s a great place to be,” she said.