If there was ever a real LIC LifeStory it would be that of John Sung Park the owner of Paris Health New Direction (Formerly Paris Donut). In 1982 after finishing his Army Duty in South Korea, Mr. Park immediately moved to Bay Ridge where his mother’s family had already begun settling in and started working a food cart in Central Park. Then he moved to washing dishes at the City Hall Cafeteria and later a fruit and Vegetable Store in Prospect Park but became frustrated by the guns and petty thief chases, so when his uncle asked him to help run a Dunkin’ Donuts franchise in Freeport Long Island, he soon found his destiny.
Life started moving quickly in Freeport where he met his future wife Vena who was a cashier and later had a son Noel. Soon after he was running his own independent Dunkin’ Donuts shop in Astoria on Ditmars Blvd and formed a long lasting relationship with a supplier who sold him wholesale donuts for a new storefront on Vernon Blvd. which he opened as ‘Paris Donut’ in 1988. With the Budweiser and Pepsi factory workers, not to mention local police station nearby, he had plenty of customers and with kickbacks from cigarette companies for using their display cases business was good. After the terrorist attacks of 2001 his donut delivery’s stopped due to increased regulations and as NYC changed the smoking laws he quickly adapted and turned his business into it’s current incarnation focusing on healthy natural products and fast friendly service.
But Mr. Park had ambitions to open a Museum and something ‘different’ in the area while also feeding his desire to collect what he calls ‘Americana’. In 2009 he opened his museum ‘UnderPenny’ around the corner on 50th ave where he displays his collection and sells antiques. Mr. Sung Park is fascinated with American history which is relatively short and therefore easy for him to study. A life long fisherman and dedicated good community samaritan, Mr. Park personifies transformation and progress. He has always loved LIC, and we hope LIC will always love him back.
by Jesse Winter