An unidentified man brought it in an envelope marked "OWNER," says Somboon Wu, son of store owner Keosavanh Xayarath. When Wu hesitated, the man grew insistent, saying he had to give the envelope directly to the owner "because there's money in it."
Wu says he began to feel wary about accepting the envelope from the stranger, but the man was dogged. "He kept insisting I take it. He left, he came back. He was really emphatic: 'Take it.' " Eventually the man put the envelope on the counter and left.
"My dad waited to open the envelope," Wu tells the Scene, because of their discomfort about the mysterious transaction. They considered calling an attorney to inspect whatever the document might be.
Finally, Xayarath opened the envelope, discovering the letter and $300, the amount the man confessed to stealing in an armed robbery more than a decade ago, while he was under the influence of drugs.
"Isn't it amazing?" Wu says. "We don't know this guy, but we want to let people know he's out there trying to fix his life."
"You know, we get cynical," he adds. "I get cynical ... a lot. But this just slaps you in the face. There are good people out there, and they deserve a second chance."
Here's the text they attached to the note on Instagram:
We were robbed about 11 or 12 years. Today, we surprisingly received this note from the robber and the stolen cash returned. This is truly inspirational and reminds us that there are plenty of good people in this world. To the anonymous person, we want to tell you all is forgiven and thank for your note. We don't care about the money. We are more inspired and touched by your act. We hope you find peace in life and prosperity. Best wishes!
(By the way, If you haven't made it over to InterAsian in the past 19 years of its existence, I recommend you do so. Here's Catbird Seat chef Erik Anderson's praise of their banh mi in Food and Wine. And Nicki Pendleton Wood lauded the banh mi in The City Paper's "25 Great Sandwiches" issue.