By Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal
• Hong Kong native Chi Kwong To opened Tupelo’s first Chinese restaurant, Sun-Kai, in 1974. It’s been in the family ever since.
He passed along the restaurant to his son, and now To’s daughter-in-law, Janet, and granddaughter, Kimberly, own it. The employees are all family – Kimberly’s sister, brother, uncle and grandmother.
“We all take part in the restaurant,” said Kimberly, noting that they start as dishwashers and work their way up.
Sun-Kai is a sit-down restaurant that serves family-style entrees. The most popular entrees are pon pon chicken, chicken fried rice, sweet and sour chicken, the Double Happy and steaks.
“Sometimes we sell more steaks than Chinese food,” Janet said.
Sun-Kai also does takeout orders, catering and private parties. In addition, it delivers to businesses at lunch as long as there are at least three orders.
And, all the dishes can be customized.
“Everything is fresh cooked so we can cook it pretty much however they want it,” Janet said.
The restaurant had a setback in April when a drunk driver drove through the building, causing the main dining room to close for about two and a half months. The family pulled together and renovated the party room in about two days.
Now, the party room and the main dining room are open and filled with Sun-Kai’s signature red paint and Chinese paraphernalia.
– Carlie Kollath
• Owners: Janet and Kimberly To
• Established: 1974
• Hours: Lunch is served Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; dinner is served Tuesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
• Address: 775 E. Main St.
• Phone: (662) 844-7074
• Primary business: Full-service Chinese and American restaurant
• Employees: 6
• Facebook: Sun-Kai