When the opportunity arose to help restore The Upper Crust to its past glory as one of city’s most beloved and widely renowned pizzerias, it was a chance Anthony Ackil said he couldn’t pass up.
“When I was growing up, it was awesome pizza – it was my favorite pizza in Boston,” said Ackil, CEO and founder of Streetlight Ventures, which around six months ago took over ownership of The Upper Crust’s original outpost at 20 Charles St., as well as its other locations in Brookline, Burlington, Cambridge, Lexington, the South End and Beverly Hills, Calif., respectively. “We’re actively turning it around, and I think we’re back there.”
Ackil, who grew up from Canton and earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard, was living in the South End when in 2004 at age 27, he founded B.Good – a chain of fast-casual restaurants specializing in locally sourced burgers . He counted himself among The Upper Crust’s loyal patrons at that time, and while he recalls the pizza as being top-notch, Ackil was also aware that their reputation as employers much less flattering at this time.
“I remembered how great the pizza was and how poorly Upper Crust’s original management treated its employees,” Ackil said. “They didn’t known what they were doing running a business, but they knew how to make a great pizza.”
Over time, however, the product was diluted as the management skimped on quality ingredients and made other concessions to cut costs. So when Streetlight signed on with the private-equity company that bought The Upper Crust out of bankruptcy about six years ago, the first order of business, Ackvil said, was returning to the original recipes.
“We went back to the original recipes and made a few tweaks to make it even better,” he added.
Moreover, Ackvil already knows that treating your employees well is the first lesson in business.
“I know how to run a company and treat my employees well,” he said. “I’m going to take everything we learned at B.Good about treating our employees as family and apply it here at Upper Crust.”
In 2018, Ackvil sold his share in B.Good to focus on entrepreneurship opportunities and launched Streetlight, a small business-service company, the following June.
“Once the pandemic struck, we were in a unique position to manage small restaurant chains,” he said. “Streetlight is set up to run multiple brands, and we’re looking for other brands with the same overhead and the same structure to keep things efficient and do a good job with the customer.”
At The Upper Crust, Ackvil said he is taking a simple but effective approach.
“The biggest focus we have is making amazing pizza and doing a good job with the customer experience – that’s all we want to do,” he said. Visit theuppercrustpizzeria.com to view the menu and place an order, or for more information