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You may have heard of his Boston hot spots, but this restaurateur’s menu includes a finance degree from Northeastern

“You can’t build and run a $70 million company because you have good food,” says Eric Papachristos, co-founder and chief executive officer of A Street Hospitality Group.

Headshot of Eric Papachristos in La Padrona Italian restaurant.
Eric Papachristos, a D’Amore-McKim School of Business graduate, poses for a portrait at his newest restaurant, La Padrona, in Raffles Hotel Boston. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

Eric Papachristos is co-founder and chief executive officer of A Street Hospitality Group, the restaurant group behind such Boston favorites as Trade, a Mediterranean spot in the Financial District, and Porto, an Italian eatery in the Prudential Center.

A Street’s 10th restaurant, La Padrona, recently opened inside the new Raffles Hotel in Back Bay.

The hospitality group employs about 700 people, Papachristos says, and expects to gross $70 million in sales this year.

And Papachristos, 47, credits much of that success to his education, including his master’s degree in finance from D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University.

“You can’t build and run a $70 million company because you have good food,” he says. “There has to be a business person that can assist in building that,” he says.

Born to Greek parents, who came to the United States to attend college before meeting each other and getting married, Papachristos was introduced to the hospitality industry at a young age.

While his mother worked as a teacher in the Boston Public Schools, his father bought a small breakfast and lunch restaurant, Niko’s, in Weymouth, Massachusetts, when Papachristos was about 10 years old. 

Although he and his brother helped to clean the restaurant after school, Papachristos says, the family joke is that he “never graduated from washing dishes,” meaning that he never cooked or even worked as a server.

The most important thing that he realized, even then, was how a restaurant can become an integral part of a community.

“I see it here now in the city,” Papachristos says. “Becoming part of the fabric of the city is always really enjoyable for me.”

Before Papachristos became an entrepreneur and restaurateur, he spent years in search of his calling.

After graduating from high school, he earned an undergraduate degree in finance and an MBA, then spent a year managing a hotel in Los Angeles. He returned to Boston and landed a good job as a financial business manager of an IT group.

“I had a nice 9-to-5 job and I was bartending at night, but I was still unfulfilled,” Papachristos says. 

So, he enrolled at Northeastern. That was September 2001.

“I just wanted to learn more,” Papachristos says. “It was a great program.”

At the same time, he was preparing to open his first business — a nightclub in Boston — and the knowledge he absorbed from his professors and finance classes helped him write a business plan for his new venture.

“Being able to couple those two things were important for me early on at Northeastern,” he says.

When Papachristos saved enough money and built the necessary relationships, he left his full-time job to focus on the night club.

But staying up until 4 a.m. gets old, even for someone with Papachristos’ energy, so eventually he took another full-time position in corporate finance at Ropes & Gray, a global law firm.

From there, he became a part-time restaurateur.

In 2007, he bought Victoria’s diner on Massachusetts Avenue in Boston, followed by opening a chicken-and-waffle place, The Hen House, across the street.

Papachristos fully transitioned into the restaurant industry when he partnered with Jody Adams — an acclaimed chef and twice James Beard Award winner — to open Trade in 2010. The first Saloniki Greek restaurant in Fenway, then Porto, followed in 2016.

“The reason that it’s such a great partnership is that I understand the business really well and Jody understands food really well,” Papachristos says.

The Northeastern finance degree contributed to his success.

“If I didn’t have my academics, there’s no way I would have been able to do what I do now,” Papachristos says. “It’s because of the professors and teachers who were able to instill a lot of that knowledge in me.”

That knowledge helped Papachristos and A Street Hospitality navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Like most in the service industry, A Street was forced to close all of its restaurants and lay off 500 employees. He even had to go on unemployment for the first time in his life.

“It was incredibly challenging,” he says. “It was very emotional.”

But in a way Papachristos enjoyed the challenge, he says, because it was his calling as an entrepreneur to steer his company to a better place.

“We came out on the other end,” he says. “And, again, I attribute a lot of that to those strategic management, organizational behavior and procurement classes.

“When you become a business owner, no one’s teaching you these things. … And I had the luxury of having an academic career that helped me get through the pandemic.”