Never say lawyers don’t have a sense of humor. Or an appreciation of irony.
When a group of attorneys and staffers at the Boston office of Ropes & Gray started an in-house knitting and crocheting club this year, they decided it needed a name. Suggestions were made and, in democratic fashion, a vote was held.
The winning moniker: Legal Loopholes, a deliciously fitting label for a law firm.
(Another proposed name that didn’t make the cut: Knitwits.)
It began as an informal social gathering that meets over lunch on Mondays, yarn in hand. But when long-time Ropes secretary Mary O’Connell heard that Rosie’s Place, the South End women’s shelter, had put out a call for hats, scarves, and mittens, the club suddenly had a mission.
“We started knitting like crazy,” recalled Ropes partner Ann Milner, (right) who said the artistic skills of the club’s 20 or so members range from “phenomenal” to, shall we say, less so.
“I’m on the lesser end of that spectrum,” joked Milner, who’s also a member of the shelter’s governance committee and one of the organizers of a free weekly debt counseling clinic at the shelter staffed by Ropes lawyers.
The fruits of the club’s labor — four boxes containing dozens of handmade items in various designs and colors — were recently delivered to Rosie’s Place by a contingent of Ropes employees.
“They came and dropped off about 100 sets of things they had knitted,” said Sue Marsh, the shelter’s executive director, “and we’ll be giving those out all winter long.” SACHA PFEIFFER
Lupoli carves up the Salvatore’s pie
Sal Lupoli knows well how tough it can be to start a restaurant. So he’s giving four loyal managers an edge — by selling his five Salvatore’s restaurants to them.
The CEO of Lupoli Cos., the Lawrence-based property and restaurant owner, said he has just finished handing over the Salvatore’s restaurants, and giving the managers no-interest loans to help them pay off the deals.
Lupoli, who still owns his Sal’s Pizza chain, concedes he got another offer, but decided to sell to his own people instead. He wanted to make sure that these managers had an opportunity to pursue their own dreams of restaurant ownership.
Peter Ackerman has taken over the two locations in Boston, while Kevin Branco acquired the restaurant business in Andover. Denise Baker now owns the Medford restaurant, and Michael Agricola owns the Salvatore’s in Lawrence. All five, Lupoli says, were profitable. The last of these transfers took place this week.
Lupoli says he’ll still play a role: The new owners need to run menu changes or price increases past him. He owns two of the restaurant buildings, and has some responsibility for the leases in the rest. But this transfer still represents an unusual opportunity.
“These managers [had previously] come to me and said, ‘If there’s ever an opportunity, I want to buy,’” he says.
Talk to Lupoli, and his affection for the managers comes through. He refers to them all as “my kids.” He’s only 49 years old now, and he still vividly remembers starting Sal’s in a 700-square-foot shop in Salem, N.H., at the age of 23. He’s come a long way since then.
“Being in the food business is tough stuff,” Lupoli says. “We don’t have to have the same blood from the same mother and father to be considered family.” JON CHESTO
Cold press juice, Boston style
Michael Karsch, chairman and lead investor of Juice Press, a 26-store New York-based chain, was in Boston to talk about his latest venture: raw juice blends that can cost $10 and up.
The Tufts and Harvard Business School alum said the chain will open three Juice Press locations, in Back Bay, the Seaport District, and Chestnut Hill — minutes from Tom Brady’s Brookline home.
That’s convenient since the company also uses an Instagram photo of the Patriots quarterback holding its Mint Chip Protein drink.
Karsch launched his first hedge fund in 2000, earning double-digit returns for five consecutive years. Although he never lost clients’ money, after disappointing returns in 2013, he closed the fund. That led him to juice and other investments; he is also owner of the rights to Dunkin’ Donuts franchises in Austin, Texas.
Karsch said he considered opening new Juice Press locations in Washington, D.C., instead of Boston, but chose Beantown because it’s where Brady lives (at least part-time) and it’s more familiar to him.
Does this mean Boston is ready for pricey non-pasteurized juice including probiotics? The former hedge fund titan said he was betting on it despite New Englanders’ sometimes frugal ways.
“People perceive $10 juices to be a certain way,” he said. “If we succeed in this town, it proves we can survive.”
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