Ho Sun’s Kitchen was built on several key ingredients.
Included are family, honesty and freshness.
“Family is always first,” said owner Simon Mar. “Careers and other stuff is secondary behind family.”
He and his wife, Debbie, have been operating Ho Sun’s Kitchen for 30 years at the same location. The actual anniversary date is Wednesday, Sept. 9.
To mark the occasion, Ho Sun’s Kitchen is offering a free egg roll to customers purchasing an order of $25 or more.
Debbie Mar is often there to greet customers.
Many are regulars. Some are even third generation folks who come along with their parents and even grandparents. “I know most of their orders (before they sit down),” she said.
Family is what brought the Mars to Manteca years ago.
Simon and Debbie came here from Hong Kong. He arrived in the U.S. in 1972 and she joined him some seven years later.
Simon Mar was in Antioch and worked several jobs including a gas station when he decided to join the U.S. Army.
He used the opportunity to better himself, working as a tank mechanic while trying to improve his English.
His staff sergeant would ride him but Simon understood very little of the verbal barrage. But he was a good worker and listener.
“The Army taught me how to listen to what people have to say – don’t talk too much and don’t complain,” Mar said. “Do (the work) first, complain later.”
He learned English by incorporating one new word a day into his vocabulary.
Simon and Debbie raised four children thanks in part to the restaurant business. That started when Simon realized that the cooking up Cantonese-style Chinese food would be his bet of supporting his family.
Ho Sun’s Kitchen opened at 1115 N. Main St. on Sept. 9, 1985. At the time, Manteca was still considered a small town with just two or three other Chinese restaurants. One was Chung King – at the current Johnny’s Restaurant location on Yosemite Avenue – in which Simon’s brother Leonard worked.
He was the first to locate to Manteca, with Simon and Debbie following him to the area.
Leonard moved over to Ho Sun’s and worked there for years. A year ago, he got into law enforcement, joining the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department at an age – 52 – when people are considering retirement.
Simon Mar isn’t talking retirement just yet. He’s giving himself at least 10 more years. “I’ll be 70 by then,” he said.
The business afforded him and Debbie to send their children to college. All four are products of East Union High.
Ellena, the eldest, is 35 and a pharmacist at Kaiser Hospital in Fremont. She attended U.C. Berkeley.
Allan, 33, went to UC Riverside. He’s a firefighter in Hayward.
Cathlyn, 30, is an X-ray technician, having gone to UC Santa Barbara.
Daryl, 27, is the youngest. She opted to stay close to home, going to the University of the Pacific.
All four have their college diplomas. Some earned two bachelor degrees, according to Debbie Mar.
They wanted their children to be educated. “I struggled in school,” said Simon, who didn’t finish high school but attended at Alameda College, where he earned a two-year degree in Automotive Body Repair.
He credits the business longevity to honesty.
“I just try to be honest with everybody,” Simon said.
This includes his work in the kitchen. He cooks up food with freshness, from the produce to the ingredients.
“For all I do, I’ve always just tried do my best,” said Simon Mar.