Kwan Sung is no stranger to the kitchen. He started working behind the cash register at his father’s restaurant, Half Penny Fish & Grill, while he was in grade school. Decades later, he won the privilege of running his father’s business as owner and manager.
“We get customers all the time saying, ‘I remember you when you were this tall over the counter,’” said Sung. “I’m going to miss that.”
After 50 years in Milpitas serving fish and chips, sushi, and an endless amount of seafood, Half Penny closed its doors for good on Saturday, August 31.
A mainstay of Parktown Plaza for decades, Half Penny got frequented by Milpitas residents seeking to sample their seafood and in-house tartar sauce. Sung’s records show Half Penny was established in 1969, making it exactly five decades old.
“Been going here for over 20 years,” wrote one Yelp reviewer on the restaurant’s page. “The best fish and chips and deep fried oysters you will ever have. Love this place.”
In explaining his departure, Sung said the Parktown building’s landlord now has other plans for the space — though no official plans have been drawn up yet.
Likewise, Sung said he has no current plans to open another restaurant. But he did offer one final story for his decades-long loyal customers:
“My father bought this business from an Irishman,” Sung said. “The Irishman had named it ‘Half Penny’ because when his ancestors immigrated to the United States, he didn’t really have anything — just a half penny,” said Sung.
A half penny, officially known as a half cent, was the smallest denomination of coin the U.S. Mint has ever produced. It was discontinued in 1857. Recent estimates value the half penny at approximately 14 cents in today’s market.
“And my father kept the name,” Sung continued. “Because he came from very little also.”