Editorial: Farewell to a JP behind-the-scenes star

Commercial landlords are rarely lauded. When things go well, they tend to be invisible, and we may only hear their names when things go wrong. Yet they shape our neighborhoods behind the scenes. In JP, some particularly committed landlords are part of the reason off-beat, indie businesses continue to thrive.

Stavros Frantzis, a JP resident who died March 15, was among them. JP probably doesn’t know what it has lost.

Stavros had a very European personality combining an artistic streak with a blue-collar work ethic. He preferred businesses with strong, JP-ish attitudes or social missions.

Twenty years ago, he and former partner Mordechai Levin rehabbed a notorious Hyde Square nightclub and cut a bargain deal to make it the home of Bella Luna Restaurant and Milky Way Lounge. The project revitalized the neighborhood, and Bella Luna/Milky Way is now a JP institution. (Its controversial rent-dispute move to The Brewery came years after Stavros was out of the picture.)

Stavros was a major influence on revitalizing Roslindale Village, too. You know that cool courtyard behind the neat businesses on Birch Street? That was Stavros, who also had master mason skills.

Stavros also was the landlord of this newspaper from its beginning more than 23 years ago. Talking rent and broken furnaces was never fun, but Stavros always had more to say than that. He might share his talented photography, or a restaurant tip, or his thoughts on the news of the day.

He thought it was important that JP have a local newspaper, and he’s one of the behind-the-scenes reasons it did. A lot of JP businesses can say something similar.

Thanks, Stavros. We miss you.

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