Businessowners talk NU purchase of Huntington property

Paxtyn Merten

University House of Pizza owner Parthena Savvidis knew that her building would eventually be sold to Northeastern.

“We know by looking around us. Northeastern owns everything. We knew it would happen.said Savvidis, who has owned the pizzeria since 1995. “But personally, I didn’t expect it to be so quick.”

Stephen Newman, who owns Punter’s Pub and the Huntington Avenue building where the two businesses are located, said Northeastern faculty members are frequent customers of his and they would often discuss whether he would someday sell the property to the university. After 47 years of ownership, Newman said he decided to sell the property because he thought it was time to begin transitioning the building to university ownership, while still operating his business for a few years.

“I’m sad,” Newman said. “I feel like I’m still young enough to carry on so I’m still in the business.”

Northeastern bought the property at 444-452 Huntington Ave. from Newman in December for $5.3 million.

“The current owners of the pub decided to sell the property and, given its proximity to our main campus, owning the site was seen as a strategic opportunity,” Northeastern spokesperson Matthew McDonald said in an email to The News. 

The pub and pizzeria are guaranteed to be open for at least two more years. In that time, McDonald said university officials will consider how the space could be best utilized.

Junior biology major Ashley Demirali said she goes to Punter’s at least every other week and wasn’t thrilled that Northeastern bought the building. She said she wished it had been someone more likely to keep the bar open.

“I hope they use it for something that’s not just another dorm.” Demirali said. “It seems a little silly to take something the community knows and loves and change it into something many students can’t even afford.”

Newman and Savvidis both said they have had good relationships with Northeastern staff and students in the past.

Newman said the university administration has expressed interest in keeping his business in an area nearby. Some members previously worked with him to find other locations in the area, but they haven’t found any potential properties, he said.

Savvidis hopes that Northeastern can find a way to keep her business in its place and build on top of it, the way many new buildings have retail stores on the base.

“It’s funny, I like to dream about it,” she said.Northeastern is going to buy the building and it’s a friendly university. Maybe they can build something on top of it. I’m dreaming, but maybe. Maybe we can have the same place and still be here.”

In the meantime, not much has changed for the business owners and the customers who frequent the pub and the pizzeria.

“Somehow the impression [customers] have is that the building is sold and I’m closing down,” Savvidis said. “Yes, now Northeastern owns the building, but we are still here. Nothing has changed for us at the moment and we are going to be here the next two years. But the impression everybody has is ‘Oh, you’re closing, let me have your last pizza, let me have one more pizza!’ which is wrong.”

Photo by Alejandro Serrano