Mr. Ho’s under new ownership

Published 2:00 am Friday, May 8, 2015

Photo/ Robbyn Brooks Taylor Mr. Ho’s Chinese Buffet is under new ownership. Nijay Nagpal owned the restaurant for 18 years and signed it to the new owner, Qu Yong Weng, pictured, on May 1.

Photo/ Robbyn Brooks Taylor
Mr. Ho’s Chinese Buffet is under new ownership. Nijay Nagpal owned the restaurant for 18 years and signed it to the new owner, Qu Yong Weng, pictured, on May 1.

BY: Robbyn Brooks Taylor

After 18 years, Vijay Nagpal turned off the light and locked the door of Mr. Ho’s restaurant one last time.

“It was emotional,” Nagpal said. “I was in tears. I kissed the floor as I left. I am so grateful to this business and the community.”

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On May 1, Nagpal and the new owners of Mr. Ho’s signed the paperwork finalizing the sale of the restaurant that has been a staple in the community for locals and college students since 1978.

“Food quality, service and friendliness – that’s been the legacy of Mr. Ho’s since the beginning,” Nagpal said.

The restaurant first opened on U.S. Highway 231 in Troy in 1978, but later relocated to its current spot on South Brundidge Street. And, although the location and owners have changed over the years, Nagpal said the restaurant continued to use the same recipes as “Mama and Papa Ho.”

Nagpal said the original owner of the restaurant sold the business in 1989. Nagpal went to work for Mr. Ho’s in May 1997 as a waiter for a Chinese couple from Taiwan, Eddie and Vicky Liu. Then, from 1999 to 2007, he worked as a waiter for another Chinese couple, David and Amy Zheng. He bought the restaurant in April 2007.

“I wanted to do better for myself, and for the future,” Nagpal said. “I wanted to achieve something on my own.”

But, the endeavor was a little more than the first-time business owner had anticipated.

“I underestimated the job,” Nagpal said. “I had to learn how to cook, fry, cut… As owner, I had to work every position.”

Nagpal added more menu items to the buffet when he took the helm of the restaurant, and even infused flavors from his own country – India.

“We kept the traditional recipes everyone loved, but it was important and good to introduce curry and masala to the menu to share with my Troy friends.”

Nagpal said he didn’t put the news about his sale of the restaurant on Facebook, but news traveled fast and his last day on the job was a busy one. Customers heard by word of mouth and piled in for a busy day and night on Thursday. Nagpal even had to call in some staff members who originally had the night off.

“I want to thank everyone who has eaten, or worked, in this restaurant. You all have my gratitude, from my heart,” Nagpal said. “I really appreciate my customers and employees for all these years. Without them, I could not do this. I could not have had this dream.”

The new owner of Mr. Ho’s restaurant planned to reopen the business on May 3 with new menu items appearing, hopefully, by May 6.

“We will still keep traditional Chinese food, but bring in different items for the customers,” said Tan Shiu, a translator for new owner, Qu Yong Weng. “Customers will see things like hibachi and Japanese sushi.”

The name of the restaurant will remain Mr. Ho’s, and so will the look of the restaurant, for now. All of the servers and some of the kitchen staff will even stay on board.

As for Nagpal, he isn’t sure what the future holds, yet, but he is looking forward to a little break.

“I just want to take a breath and ask God for guidance,” Nagpal said. “Please, friends, keep me in your prayers.

“I wish Mr. Weng the best of luck, and I encourage everybody to support him as they did me.”

And although Nagpal is leaving behind the business where he spent much of the last 18 years, he said he’s taking something priceless with him.

“Love,” Nagpal said. “You cannot buy that. And that’s what I get to keep in my heart.”