For 27 years, Tony Eng was a constant presence at Royal Buddha Restaurant in Milford.
He commuted to his restaurant six days a week from Boston, and the connection to the business was so strong, his son said, it seemed like a fourth child in the family.
"His business was just as much a child to him as us," said Benjamin Eng.
Tony Eng, the owner and longtime manager of the Chinese restaurant, died Sunday following several months of treatment for cancer. He was 62, his son said, and until recently had been responding well to treatment.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Wing Fook Funeral Home, 13 Gerard St., Roxbury. In a notice posted on the restaurant doors, the family said the public is invited and can call 617-989-8833 for directions. The restaurant, which closed Monday, will reopen later this week.
Many people from Milford have already called, Benjamin Eng said, including longtime customers and others who knew his father professionally.
At 18, Mr. Eng left his home in Hong Kong and came to the U.S. to attend Northeastern University, studying business. He had planned to return home after graduation, but met his wife, Cheryl, at the university. They married and Mr. Eng remained in the U.S. for the remainder of his life.
He had an opportunity to purchase the restaurant in Milford, then an Italian restaurant, in 1985. He opened Royal Buddha Restaurant, naming it in deference to his Buddhist faith, and took pride in his work, Benjamin Eng said. At the time, Milford did not have many options for Chinese food. Mr. Eng, who had worked as a waiter, then a bartender, then a manager, at different restaurants in Boston's Chinatown, was proud of owning the restaurant.
Royal Buddha specializes in Mandarin, Schezuan and Cantonese style food.
The Engs' three sons, Benjamin, Theodore and Graham, came to the restaurant frequently with their father, who worked every day but Mondays for 27 years. Mondays were for family. "We grew up in the restaurant," Benjamin said.
In March, when Mr. Eng was diagnosed and began treatment, Benjamin Eng, his oldest son, moved back to Massachusetts from his home in Tokyo, and started managing the restaurant in his father's absence.
His father wanted the business to remain in the family, Benjamin Eng said, and the family will need to discuss how to continue that legacy.
Benjamin Eng said he appreciated the many kind words of longtime customers, who have contacted the family in recent days, and who sent good wishes to his father when they realized he was ill. Interacting with the customers was what his father most enjoyed about owning the restaurant, Eng said.
"It was definitely the customers," Eng said. "A lot of them have pretty much been there from the day we opened."