Built on Instinct and Determination
Lupoli has extended his knack for polishing diamonds in the rough to the Andovers.
Businessman Sal Lupoli’s restaurant and real estate moves in the Andovers might seem to stray from those he’s taken with the ventures that forged his success in the Merrimack Valley over the past 25 years.
After all, he twice mortgaged all he had on ideas rife with risk.
First, in 1990, the Northeastern University graduate banked big on Sal’s Pizza. He opened store one — of what would become a sea of franchised Sal’s — in Salem, N.H., a working-class/middle-class city.
Then in 2003, he again risked all he, and now his young family, had to develop an enormous and largely dilapidated mill space in Lawrence, a poor city with all the problems that accompany poverty.
But Lupoli’s Andover investments have followed a familiar pattern, moving from food to real estate, and relying on those same instincts shaped by life lessons and marked by good timing.
Three years ago, he bought 34 Park St. in Andover’s downtown. He renovated the property, opening another of his popular Salvatore’s restaurants in a vacant space there. He also kept the existing tenant, the longtime local real estate broker Lillian Montalto Signature Properties.
Then in late 2014, he put his second imprint on the community with the new Andover Medical Center & Express Care building at 323 Lowell St. that he built from the ground up — and is soon to double in size.
The medical center, a joint venture between Lawrence General Hospital and Pentucket Medical Associates, was fully occupied even before the doors opened in December. The medical center and the restaurant represent 200 jobs, including 120 new doctors, says Gerry-Lynn Darcy, vice president of real estate for the Lupoli Companies.
Now, the married Chelmsford father of two children has plans to develop a 350,000-square-foot office and retail complex on Dascomb Road in Andover near Interstate 93. The job growth from the Dascomb project alone could top 900, Darcy says.
Raised for success
Lupoli, 48, dressed in a crisp, dark-blue suit and sitting in a clean, bright conference room with lots of glass in that once-ailing Lawrence mill site, says his investments in Andover are part of his overall vision first assembled as a junior in college with the help of academics.
The former college football nose guard, a scholarship player who rose from humble ranks with roots in East Boston, actually traces some of his most enduring lessons to his upbringing.
Long before his first Sal’s Pizza, his grandparents, Salvatore and Mary Lupoli, ran a pizzeria together on Revere Beach.
It was his father, Nicholas, who had owned a restaurant before a heart attack left him largely bedridden, who advised a young Sal.
At 16, at home in Chelmsford, sitting at the foot of his father’s bed, he listened to the patriarch of his family philosophize about the importance of being passionate in endeavors, about the role scale plays in business acumen, and about having an impact on people.
“The greatest lesson he gave me was his explanation and his requirement to make a difference in people’s lives,” Lupoli says.
Lupoli credits his father with advising him, as a college business management student who graduated with honors in 1989, to seek the counsel of professors, when forming his business plan.
From his mother, Jeannette, Lupoli saw an example of hard work. A strong, petite woman with a unique laugh, she raised six boys while working 60 hours a week.
She instilled lots of confidence in Lupoli.
He remembers telling his mother that he was going to make it to the mountaintop and take care of the family.
She responded: “What makes you think you are going to get to the top of a mountain?”
At first, Lupoli didn’t understand what she meant.
She went on, saying, “Sal, there are no peaks for you, you climb and climb and climb and move on, you don’t stop.”
Lupoli’s business climb has resulted in him leading more than 1,000 employees and managing more than $40 million in annual revenues.
Lupoli Company’s holdings include those in hospitality, commercial real estate, property management, construction management, healthcare and e-commerce.
There are 40 Sal’s Pizza locations, and Salvatore’s restaurants in eight communities, including Andover as well as the Seaport and Theatre Districts in Boston.
In Lawrence, the Riverwalk Properties is a campus of 2.6 million square feet of retail, commercial and residential space. In 2003, the property had less than 35 businesses employing fewer than 700 people. Today, it has more than 200 companies supporting more than 4,000 jobs.
Darcy, Lupoli’s vice president of real estate, says her boss puts the right people to work in the right places, and he has strong business instincts.
A North Andover native and Brooks School graduate, Darcy herself grew up in the construction business and has worked in the industry for decades, including on the redevelopment of the Hingham shipyard, which included abandoned properties.
Successful developers like Lupoli have a natural intuition as to which projects will work, she says.
Lupoli has exercised that intuition by seeing diamonds in the rough, seeing potential in underused, even vacant and blighted locations.
Longtime Andover Town Manager Reginald “Buzz” Stapczynski says the town has long been desirable to developers. But he says Lupoli found a creative use for 34 Park St., and the project’s timing coincided with renewed interest in downtown and restaurants, an interest that Salvatore’s presence has enhanced.
Lupoli has succeeded in infusing Andover with energy and experience, Stapczynski says.
“The enthusiasm and vision he brings to all his projects is infectious,” the town manager says. “I think he was met with open arms because of his reputation.”
That reputation is of being a trusted professional who is well prepared to present to local boards and who brings the right people to his projects.
He is also driven to succeed and to move on to what’s next.
Lupoli works long hours, rising at 3 or 4 a.m. daily, typically focusing on the real estate side of his business during the first part of the day and the restaurant hospitality part in the latter portion.
He values education and recently, in 2012, earned his Master of Business Administration degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management.
Lupoli devotes time to reading — “Soul of Leadership,” “Lincoln” and “Daring Greatly” were among his latest choices. He leads business organizations, including serving as board chairman for the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce, and supports charitable endeavors, including the Leadership and Literacy Foundation in Lawrence, making a difference in the lives of children and adults and the community.
He’s also a devoted family man who coaches sports and with his wife, Kati, is actively raising daughter Mary and son Salvatore Jr.
All of those ingredients have gone into bringing Lupoli to where he is today — his good business instincts serving as the yeast that has given rise to his successful portfolio and his upbringing providing him with the perspective and desire to become an agent for good in people’s lives.
By Terry Date • Spring 2015 • The Andovers