A Northwest Indiana Life in the Spotlight: Chris Pappas

A Northwest Indiana Life in the Spotlight: Chris Pappas

While people grow throughout their lives, discovering their own passions and interests as they go, It’s even more special when a parent’s passions become their child’s passions as well. The restaurant business has always been a big part of Chris Pappas’ life. His family has been in the restaurant business for nearly 55 years, and he was surrounded by a love of cooking his entire childhood. So, when it came to choosing his career, the choice was simple.

“I was born and raised in the restaurant business. Daycare was literally the restaurant for me. I was always brought to work with my dad, and I’d hang out in the restaurant all the time. I've truly grown up in the business, and it’s what I’ve been used to my entire life. I knew it was going to be a good career fit for me,” said Pappas. 

Pappas grew up in Crown Point and graduated from Crown Point High School. Afterward, he went to Purdue University West Lafayette to earn his bachelor's degree in hospitality and tourism management.

Looking to challenge himself, Pappas then moved to New York to attend the Culinary School of America for two years. In the middle, he spent a year doing an unpaid internship in California, gathering as much experience as possible. 

In 2013, after finishing up his schooling, Pappas moved back to the Region and took over his father’s restaurant, Pappas, so his dad could retire. He remodeled and revamped the menu, and since then, the restaurant has grown tremendously. He is now the chef-owner of Meraki Hospitality Group, a collection of restaurants including Pappas Restaurant & Bar, Provecho Latin Provisions, Ramen District, and The Grand Catering & Events. 

It’s been a bit challenging for Pappas to have his business grow so quickly, especially during such difficult times, but his passion and drive keep him going. He has high hopes for the future and has no plans to back down anytime soon. 

“We went from just a small 30 to 50-person company to a company pushing 200 employees. There’s just been an exponential amount of growth here. It’s been a big challenge trying to balance it all and figure everything out, especially since COVID kind of threw everything through a loop, and now we’re experiencing increased operating costs because of food supply chain issues. We’re still just in our infancy, though, and we’re going to keep working hard to be successful,” said Pappas. 

Pappas’ favorite part of being a chef and a restaurant owner is how he’s able to provide the community with unique experiences. He loves creating delicious meals for people and encouraging them to try new things. 

“Just being able to create a concept and bring something different to Northwest Indiana that we don't already have is incredible. Serving different types of cuisine to our guests and creating a concept from start to finish and making it all come together is amazing,” said Pappas. 

Pappas has had many people in his life who have inspired him, but no one has been more inspirational and supportive than his dad. 

“My dad started this business 55 years ago, so he's been doing this for a long time. He's always been there supporting me and showing me the ropes. It’s a huge inspiration to me to see what he's created from nothing. He grew up on a small island in Greece and came to America when he was 12 years old. He’s really an example of the American dream, and I think that it’s very humbling to see that somebody can achieve that. He’s shown me that as long as you put your mind to something, you can do it,” said Pappas. 

Along with his dad, Pappas is incredibly thankful to all of his hardworking staff who have helped make his dreams possible. 

“I'm obviously spread thin, and I think that my staff are the people that help make this place what it is. They’re my ideas, but they're the ones executing them day in and day out. I wouldn't be where I am without the great staff that I have,” said Pappas. 

When he’s not busy serving delicious food to the Region, Pappas loves spending as much time as possible with his wife and two kids. Pappas’ story serves as a reminder that passion, even when things get tough, is powerful.