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Family Man: Sal Lupoli

Salvatore’s, the wildly popular and authentically Italian family of eateries, opens its doors in Andover.

Last November, Salvatore’s Restaurants celebrated the grand opening of its fifth outpost, located at 34 Park Street in Andover, by offering buy-one-get-one-free entrees. Such a move might be considered by some as little more than a marketing ploy, and while that might be partially true in this case, the offer also speaks to the generous nature of Sal Lupoli, the group’s affable founder and president.

Lupoli is, after all, a family man whose success in the restaurant business has done little to lead him astray of his naturally warm personality. But, as he tells it, his restaurant group’s success is thanks more to the genuine methods employed by his staff than to anything else. In fact, Lupoli is so devoted to maintaining that familial feel that despite operating restaurants in Lawrence, Medford, and Boston, he is still hesitant to refer to his business as a chain.

Looking back on the early days of his restaurants, Lupoli says, “We had a different vision. We wanted to blend in with the [area in which each restaurant is located]. Even though [the restaurants] all carry the same Salvatore name and same perceived value and quality, we just wanted something a little different [for each location].”

As for why he chose Andover for his latest location, Lupoli says, “The people are unique in Andover. They’re very family oriented. The location [in downtown Andover] is fabulous. It is a bedroom community. You want to be a part of that, and it’s something I’m very excited about.”

The new Salvatore’s will comprise nearly 140 seats, with outdoor seating and music a possibility in the summertime, according to Lupoli. “It’s going to be a very sexy and trendy place.”

“The free public parking lot will also be a huge plus for the downtown area,” Lupoli says. For anyone who has fruitlessly circled downtown Andover in search of a spot, Lupoli’s latter point will be well received.

Buzz and success  aside, Lupoli’s motive in opening his first restaurant-and, thus, getting into the business-was touchingly pure. “I wanted to have a place for my father to hold court. My father had a lot of friends who always came to visit him at the pizza place [Sal’s, the family’s pizza restaurant]. I thought, ‘Now, he can go to the restaurant, and I can have a place to cook for my father.’ I just saw him at the head of the table and [thought], ‘What a way for him to enjoy the later part of his life.'”

Sadly, the restaurant wasn’t yet finished when Lupoli’s father passed away, but despite what he says could have been viewed as a reason to throw in the towel, Lupoli forged on. “Something in me said, ‘I have to see this forward. I have to show him that this was going to be his,” Lupoli says. His father, undoubtedly, would have been proud. -Lindsay Lambert and Kayla Carignan