Stephen P. Mugar’s family immigrated to the United States from Armenia in 1905. The family settled in Watertown, Massachusetts, where Stephen’s father, Sarkis Mugar, purchased a small grocery store called Star Market in 1916. When Sarkis was injured in an automobile accident and became unable to work, Stephen left his accounting studies at Bentley College to operate the Watertown Square store with his three sisters, Alice, Mary and Helen.
The 1930s saw substantial growth for Star Market starting, with a second store opening in Newton, Massachusetts, and more stores following in Wellesley and Cambridge. In subsequent years, the number of stores grew by about one a year. Grocery stores changed after WWII, when cars became more prevalent, and by the mid-1940s fewer people needed to patronize the downtowns of communities to purchase goods. Grocery stores evolved into the “self-service” model of our supermarkets of today. Seeing an opportunity, Stephen started developing complementary stores to be built adjacent to the Star Market stores, thus creating a series of shopping centers. Most of these original shopping centers still exist today in Massachusetts and Rhode Island and continue to be very successful. By the mid-1960s, the family grocery chain had grown to about 35 Star Market supermarkets and many shopping centers throughout New England. The family also acquired the Brigham’s ice cream plant and stores.
In 1964, Stephen sold the family’s interest in the Star Market supermarkets to the Chicago-based Jewel Tea Company (now known as Jewel-Osco). David Mugar, Stephen’s son, had been working at Star Market stores for several years in various positions, including for a year as a meat cutter, night manager and store manager. In 1965, with the proceeds of the Star Market sale, the family founded what is today Mugar Enterprises, Inc., and opened its first office in Boston’s Back Bay.
Mugar Enterprises invested in a wide array of business, operational and real estate investments, including developing and managing the shopping centers that were built as part of the growth of Star Markets and developing regional malls (Cape Cod Mall, Warwick Mall, the Natick Mall) and Burlington Woods Office Park and Burlington Marriott Hotel.
The Mugar family forecasted the eventual growth of Cape Cod and partnered to build the Cape Cod Mall in Hyannis, Massachusetts, which opened in 1970. This retail complex of over 100 stores was the first mall on the Cape, and it continues to be one of the largest commercial properties on Cape Cod. The Mugar family sold its interest in the mall to Simon Properties in 1998.
With the same Cape Cod partner, the Mugars developed four Red Jacket Inns on the ocean on Cape Cod and two more in the mountains of New Hampshire. The Mugars subsequently sold their interest in the hotel chain to their partner about 30 years later.
After Stephen passed away in 1982, David took the reins of Mugar Enterprises and with his entrepreneurial spirit and wide-ranging interests embarked on many successful investments and partnered with several local real estate developers.
Thirwood Place, one of Cape Cod’s premier retirement communities, was developed in 1989 in South Yarmouth, MA. Thirwood Place boasts over 200 units including independent, one-and two-bedroom and assisted living units. With recreational facilities and fine dining on-site, Thirwood Place continues to provide high-quality services and amenities to its residents.
With Arthur Fiedler in 1974, David Mugar founded and for 26 years was the sole sponsor of Boston’s Fourth of July celebration with the Boston Pops on the Charles River Esplanade. David has served as the event’s executive producer since its inception. Today, David manages Boston 4 Celebrations, the nonprofit corporation that organizes and operates this beloved annual event in Boston, which in 2013 will celebrate its 40th anniversary.
Having an interest in the television industry, David entered into the fight of his business career in 1970, when he and the “Community Broadcasting” group challenged RKO General, a subsidiary of corporate giant General Tire and Rubber for the FCC broadcasting license to Boston’s WNAC Channel 7. Asserting that RKO had conducted unfair reciprocal trade practices and made various other SEC violations, David fought tirelessly in a legal battle that lasted 13 years. Much came to light in the subsequent hearings and appeals about the corporate conduct of RKO General In a stunning victory, the FCC stripped RKO General of WNAC-TV’s license on May 22, 1982, finding that RKO “lacked the requisite character” to be the station’s licensee. David had prevailed and became majority owner, chairman and CEO of New England Television, which owned and operated WHDH-TV and WHDH-AM radio stations for 11 years. His high standards for ensuring community based broadcasting was reflected in the locally produced programming that served the Boston area well. In 1993, he sold the station to Sunbeam Television of Miami, Florida.
In 1993, David built a vacation home on the island of St. John in the United States Virgin Islands. Recognizing a need, David developed and opened a full service grocery supermarket called Starfish Market in Cruz Bay in 1995. By offering quality, consistency and variety in its products, Starfish Market raised the standard of living for islanders. David and three local partners subsequently built the St. John Marketplace, a 74,000-square-foot, three-story shopping and professional services center near Cruz Bay, which opened in 2000. The original Starfish Market was relocated and expanded, and in 2007, Starfish Gourmet & Wines was opened across from the main grocery store, further expanding shopping options. Starfish Gourmet & Wines is now widely regarded as one of the best wine and liquor stores in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Continuing his entrepreneurial pursuits in the late 1990s, David invested with Don Law in the outdoor concert venues ”Great Woods” in Mansfield, MA (now the Comcast Center), Harborlights Pavilion on Boston Harbor and NeXT Ticketing agency. All three successful businesses were sold to Clear Channel Communications in 2000.
David co-founded Brownfields Recovery Corporation in 1996, purchasing and redeveloping Brownfields properties. At one point, Brownfields Recovery Corporation oversaw 1.5 million square feet of industrial, warehouse and office space in New England, including the 45 acre Admiral’s Wharf parcel in Stamford, Connecticut which was sold in 1995.
In 2002, The Mugar family and partners purchased a 1,200-acre site on St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands, the former Alcoa alumina processing plant. The site which boasts a coal-fired power plant, desalination capabilities, bunkering tanks, as well as a working port is currently under development. Industrial tenants on site include Diageo, world-wide manufacturer and distiller of spirits, and GeoNet, an ethanol dehydration facility.
Today, our office continues to make investments in real estate and operating companies, including parking garages in Portland, Maine, and life-science laboratory buildings in Lexington, Massachusetts. Other investments have included Woodside Capital (founding member), web retailer Rue La La, Woods Hole Group and Barbara Lynch Gruppo restaurants. Entertainment holdings include ownership of the Boston Opera House, House of Blues Boston, the Orpheum Theatre, the Paradise Nightclub and the Brighton Music Hall.
Real estate developments include the Derby Street Shoppes in Hingham, Massachusetts, the Boston Mandarin Oriental Hotel, a small interest in the fan pier development on the South Boston waterfront, and mixed use developments in Boston’s Fenway area.
The Mugar Enterprises, office manages closely-held investments; oversees real estate development;, evaluates new investment opportunities; manages a globally diversified portfolio; coordinates tax; trust; philanthropy and estate planning; and provides management and reporting services to the Mugar family.