Serial entrepreneur and restaurateur Tony Park, who is 45-years-old and New York City-based, owns the following: two bakeries (with more to come), a cocktail bar, a full-service Korean BBQ restaurant and he just opened a Korean steakhouse. Formulas haven’t particularly worked for Park who is driven by his own independent spirit.
Park has diversified roots in New York City eateries. He served as real-estate manager for Paris Baguette and Essen, and then was an investor in them, which both expanded. But prior to the Covid pandemic, he sold his interests to capitalize the opening of Angelina’s Bakery.
Park’s restaurant group, QB Hospitality includes two Angelina’s Bakery, in Times Square and the Garment District, and is looking to franchise and adding six new outlets this year. He also runs Antoya BBQ, a Korean BBQ restaurant, located in proximity to the Empire State Building, Katherine, a cocktail bar, and now Anto, a Korean steakhouse, which opened in March 2023. Angelina’s is named after his daughter, Katherine, after his wife, and Anto, after his son.
An enterprising entrepreneur Tony Park is now starting to franchise his restaurant concepts to further expansion.
Park also owns PD Properties, a real-estate firm, that he explained “formed the backbone of our hospitality group.” Its profits enable him to “finance our food and beverage business through the real estate that we purchased during Covid,” he said. Acquired at bargain prices, the real-estate has been proliferating in value.
In fact, he said, the real-estate often dictates what kind of restaurant specialty he develops. “Certain locations demand a certain kind of restaurant,” he asserted.
For example, Katherine, a cocktail bar, on West 35th is on a block with five or six hotels, and is therefore frequented by tourists, where two old-time bars closed due to the pandemic. Hence, the block demanded another bar, he suggested.
He acknowledged that marketing so many brands makes it more difficult. “I’d rather not do it. But I’ve had to make tough choices,” he revealed. But in pricey Manhattan, real-estate has a way of exerting undue influence.
All of these diverse restaurant enterprises were self-financed by Park, without having to reach out to angel investors, venture capitalists or private equity, enabling him to have full control. But now things are changing.
When Park adds six new Angelina’s Bakery in New York City, they will be franchised. Why franchise? The demand was there, he suggested. “We’ve been getting four or five emails a day. I decided not to run them all, but teach others to run it” he said.
Angelina’s Bakery operates like an Italian bakery where bread is baked in-house daily, not prepared at a central kitchen. “People like to see their croissants coming out of the oven,” he said. “They’re harder to run,” he admitted, because of that reliance on fresh baking.
Coming soon is a franchised Angelina’s Bakery in downtown Brooklyn, and then in Grand Central, Port Authority, Bryant Park and in NoMad, all extremely highly-trafficked locations.
He’s also looking to franchise Antoya’s BBQ, which has two locations under construction, though that will take six to eight months to play out. Franchising makes sense for expansion, Park noted, because “we have a system and template that we can duplicate. We know what sells and what doesn’t, with a well-proven concept.”
He opened Anto restaurant, a Korean steakhouse on East 58th Street, despite the fact that Midtown Manhattan is filled with steakhouses including Smith & Wollensky, Gallagher’s Steakhouse, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Wolfgang’s Steakhouse. So why debut another?
Park replied that Anto “brings a culturally-grounded Korean steakhouse to New York City diners. While there are many steakhouses in the city, Anto is an opportunity to introduce and educate New Yorkers on the ingredients and traditions of the Korean table.”
Korean food and culture, he said, are extremely popular and trendy. “Look at the TV series ‘Squid Games,’ he noted.
Operating so many independent eateries and several bakeries takes a village. Park noted that “Across our team, we have seasoned and experienced hospitality management professionals,” whom he depends on to make the varied eateries operate effectively.
And what does it take to be so successful at real-estate, investing and operating restaurants? “A lot of sacrifice in your personal life,” Park admitted, including “a lot of working from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. six days a week.”