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How Tony Park Created a Food Empire in America

A Korean from Sicily, Tony Park has built QB Hospitality into a group with eight food establishments in New York City. It is about to open many more.

Tony Park outside of the newest Angelina Bakery in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

Tony Park was born to Korean parents in Sicily. He and his older brother were the only kids of Asian descent anywhere near their Palermo home, if not on the entire island. “That guys looks different,” Park remembers the feeling of the attention from his peers who called him “Bruce Lee” as their only cultural reference. Immersion in food was his means of assimilation, and Park entered culinary school around the time a second Asian family arrived in the area to open a Chinese restaurant, where Park worked.

While spending a summer with his brother, who was studying abroad at the University of Pennsylvania, Park took a job at a new Italian restaurant in the Philadelphia suburbs opened by Greeks who knew very little about Italian food. Park did a bit of everything, from management to chef. Between this job and a construction job in the morning, he was making in a day what he made in a month back in Italy.

"I told my mother that I was moving to America," Park recalls. "She said I had to finish school first."

In his early 20s, in the late '90s, the ambitious and hard-working Park finished his studies in hotel management and culinary school back in Palermo and moved to America to work, once again, at the Greek-owned Italian restaurant. When that restaurant sold, Park went into the ATM business, where his Midas touch earned him serious scratch for a solid decade. Government regulations and other complications led him out of that business and into real estate and restaurant investing in New York City.

The banking crisis of 2008 quickly killed many of his early restaurant endeavors, so Park focused exclusively on commercial and residential real estate properties. Shortly before Covid, he began investing again in restaurants, most notably in his own Italian bakery, Angelina Bakery (named after his first child). During Covid, many of his restaurant partners or tenants stopped paying their rent. He decided to take over the establishments himself and run them, converting many franchised places into independent entities of his corporation, QB Hospitality.

Today, QB owns eight eateries around New York City: four Angelina stores, three bakeries and a gelateria; Anto (named after his second child), a high-end Korean steakhouse on 58th Street in the building that once housed Lidia Bastianich’s beloved Felida; Antoya, a modern Korean BBQ joint among the most regaled in K-Town (that also includes, respectively, a nightclub and a separate chef’s table experience), a commissary where all of the baked goods are prepared; and Katherine (named after his wife), a year-old establishment that recently went under a re-branding that intersects Park’s backgrounds and passions.

Katherine is now Katherine Meets Toni, a stylish cocktail lounge and restaurant featuring brick-oven pizzas prepared in Neapolitan fashion. Three of the pies feature Korean-inspired toppings, such as the Kimchi Speck. The menu also features antipasti plates, traditional Roman pastas, regional Italian entrees, and desserts. The W. 35th Street location is elegant and modern with a long, illuminated bar in the main dining area where signature cocktails are whipped up by dapper mixologists. There's seating out back and an upstairs escape that has a rope swing where couples can pose for photos, and hope for the best, on the Katherine Meets Toni love seat.

The reinvention of Katherine into Katherine Meets Toni adds another gem to the ever-expanding culinary presence in New York of a Korean kid born and raised in Sicily who has no plans of slowing down. There are currently seven more Angelina Bakery locations being franchised around the northeast with more to follow across the country. "I found America," Park says.

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