In Meridian Twp., two restaurants, two generations thrive on one street

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Henry Kwok has been working in a restaurant as long as he can remember. He opened his bar, Henry’s Place, three years ago side by side with Asian Buffet that his mom owned for 17 years. 

Growing up in New York, he moved to Michigan with his mother in 1998, and Kwok has always helped out in his mother’s restaurant. 

 It is hard at that time for this family. Li hasn’t been away from Michigan for over 20 years. She has always hands on every little details in her restaurant. She worked day and night for seven day straight in order to raise her family. But Li put on a smile when she was talking about her son, Henry. 

“Henry is a good one,” Hsiu Chin Li said. “He would always helped out in the restaurant after school. I think he learned a lot in there. I don’t think he likes working in the restaurant very much at the beginning.” 

Kwok was influenced a lot by growing up in the restaurant and helping out for his mom. He thinks the lesson he learned in restaurant, also guide him throughout his life. 

“They definitely show me the part of hard work,” Kowok said. “The part of persever of things go bad but you still have to put in effort.”

Studying in supply chain management, Kwok worked in different industries. From market to automobile franchises, he tried to stay in Michigan, and finally came back to the restaurant industry to help out with his mother in Okemos.. 

“When Henry graduated, he decided to take a job in California,” Hsiu Chin Li said. “I cried for a few days. I worked so hard to raise him, but he suddenly has to leave me. I don’t know what to do after that.” 

After a long struggles and thoughts, Kwok decided to stay with his mother. While staying in Okemos, not only he helped out the business, but also he started his own bar next to Asian Buffet. 

“The food from Henry’s Place is sort of my perspective of different restaurants that I went to,” Kwok said. “Bits of  pieces that I created for the menu. It’s just not one menu per say and not one cuisine per say. It’s a little bit for everybody.”

Kwok ran back and forth between two restaurants. The manager of Henry’s place, Kelli Jones would help to create the menu with Kwok. 

“I love my job, it is a lot of fun here,” Jones said. “It is different from other bars. We played around with different liquor to make them martini, cosmos and craft cocktails.” 

Kwok devoted himself into his business and his family. He is grateful for his decision to stay in his restaurant business. 

“As I was going up, family is always coming from Chinese background, even growing up in America, my mom taught me respect, honor and family,” Kwok said. “I didn’t understand when I was  younger. When I get older, it start to integrated with me. Being next door with each other makes me appreciate more since I am side by side with my mother instead of coming back on the weekend to help out.”

“It makes me feel better that she can rely on me,” Kwok said.