Friends of NxtGen Nexus – SoCal held their inaugural meeting at Papa Cristo’s on Thursday June 30, 2022. Friends of NxtGen Nexus – SoCal is a group of professional service advisors dedicated to celebrating and supporting the extraordinary contributions of Family Businesses to the SoCal community. Friends of NxtGen Nexus – SoCal consists of a wide range of advisors including estate planning attorneys, corporate attorneys, CPAs, insurance professionals and Family Dynamics specialists who deal with the unique issues resulting from the overlap of family, business, and wealth.
Allen Esrock, Founder of NxtGen Nexus a SoCal/global community to serve the personal/professionals needs of Enterprising Family Business NxtGens, explained why he chose Papa Cristo’s as the location for the event, “Papa Cristo’s is a touchstone for generations of Angelinos; however, a surprising number of people are unaware of the restaurant because LA is about being shiny and new. None of our Friends of NxtGen Nexus – SoCal members had been to Papa Cristo’s, and I believe they won’t forget the experience of eating here.”
Papa Cristo’s started in 1948 as C & K Importing Company and has been serving the Greek community on the same corner at 2771 West Pico Boulevard. Sam Chrys’ goal was to bring the foods and wines of Greece to Los Angeles. C & K Importing Company grew into a market where all ethnicities came to visit and always enjoyed the purity of the product assortment.
In 1968 Chrys Chrys purchased the business from his father to carry on the legacy. Chrys wanted to open a Greek restaurant, so he traveled to the many regions and islands of Greece to understand the flavors and tastes in authentic Greek cooking. Chrys dreamed of replicating the success of Diana’s, the famous Greek restaurant in Chicago’s Greektown where lines of people would wait outside to taste their fabulous food.
Chrys wildly exceeded his expectations as Papa Cristo’s not only had lines of people waiting to get into the restaurant but developed a catering business, wholesale business and the grocery business. Papa Cristo’s has been the site of many wedding receptions where the smashing of plates and singing choruses of “Oopah!” was in full force.
The highlight of the event was spending time with Chrys and his cousin Mark who shared the history of Papa Cristo’s, including Chrys’ refusal to use locally produced feta cheese. The group found this a bit surprising because of the current emphasis on locally grown produce and produced products. Chrys simply responded that feta in the United States doesn’t meet his standards, so he imports his feta to provide the best product for his customers.
Chrys shared his succession plan (there isn’t one) as well as the importance of taking care of his employees some of whom have worked for the company for over 30-years. Chrys mentioned that while some restaurants will send employees home early when business is slow, he won’t do that because his family restaurant is supporting their families.
Dr. Jeremy Lurey, a Consultant from The Family Business Consulting Group, a talented team of advisors who enable family businesses to prosper across generations, was truly inspired by Chrys’ story. Dr. Lurey recognizes how few family businesses even survive from the first to second generation and shared, “Hearing of a second-generation business that is thriving – no less an independent restaurant that made it through the COVID pandemic – is amazing! Chrys’ entrepreneurial magic might just be his ‘Holy Trinity’ as he calls it, equally prioritizing his Customers, his Suppliers, and of course his Employees. Not all business owners get the importance of people or the value of delivering a consistent high-quality solution over time.”
Heath Goldman, President & CEO of ICON Wealth & Legacy Partners, summed up the experience of being at Papa Cristo’s. “We’re a group of professional service providers who cater to family businesses supporting their successful transition to the next generation. We have strong relationships with our clients, but we often focus on the financial needs and not enough on the emotional side. Creating a lasting legacy for the founders is often the most rewarding work that we can do. Papa Cristo’s is part of the living history of Los Angeles and being able to learn of this history from Chrys and Mark was an extraordinary journey. We will continue to support the entire SoCal Family Business community and celebrate what makes family businesses so special and unique.”