Corrections or additions?

This article by Kathy Spring was prepared for the April 14, 2004

issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Out of the Kitchen, Into the Tile Store

Ming Poon didn’t want his two young daughters, age 5 and 7, to grow up

in a Chinese restaurant – or any restaurant. So he sold Ming’s Garden,

which is located in Kingston, and has opened a tile and stone store,

also in Kingston.

"The girls are in school now. They have to get up early," says Poon.

Hanging around the restaurant until late at night made them tired the

next day. Now they are at home with their mother, in the family’s new

home in Monmouth Junction, and Poon is putting in long days getting

his store ready. "I’m excited but tired," he says.

Poon came to the United States in 1983 at age 17. "I had $200 and

change in my pockets," he says. He also had an uncle who was a chef at

Good Time Charley’s restaurant. His uncle got him a job in the

kitchen, and he moved up from there, working at the restaurant for 16

years, and saving enough to open his own restaurant.

"When you come to this country, you have to expect to work harder," he

says. "If you’re not ready to work hard, you should not come." Still,

there are limits to hard work, and Poon drew the line when his

youngsters became involved.

As the nearly 24-hour restaurant lifestyle began to wear on his

family, Poon began to cast about for a new business. He had friends in

the tile business, and began to research it, spending hours waiting in

line at wholesalers and at chain home improvement stores. When he

found it hard to attract the attention of salespeople, he concluded

that the residential market is being underserved.

Working for two months at getting his store open, Poon has stocked

granite, marble, ceramic tile, and porcelain, and plans to add glass

soon. The area is hungry for upscale, high-quality home improvement

upgrades, he believes.

He has done some work with a contractor, and feels confident in

recommending his services to customers. He is also assembling a team

of installers. "It will be two businesses," he says, "sales and

installation."

And what kind of materials does he enjoy in his own kitchen? "Oh, it

is a simple kitchen," he says. Upgrades will have to wait a while,

until his new business is fully-staffed and running smoothly.

Kingston Tile & Stone, 4437 Route 27, Kingston Mall,

Kingston 08540. Ming Poon, owner. 609-252-0868; fax, 609-252-0288.


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