Continuing the Legacy 

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By Kitty Whitfield, Small Business Engagement Manager 

The Atheneum Suite Hotel opened 30 years ago at a time when there was only two upscale hotels in Downtown Detroit. While the hotel landscape has changed over the past three decades, the space is still a unique property in Greektown and is now run by Athina Papas.  

The hotel, which was originally a warehouse, was built by Athina’s father, Jim Papas, who immigrated to the United States from Greece. As a child, Athina recalls watching the hotel being built, not imagining that she would one day run the property. Her father was part of the original group of Greek businessmen who banded together to organize and hold the first Greek Festival in Downtown Detroit in 1965. His voice continues to be an important one in the city today.  

Athina Papas, Executive at Atheneum Suite Hotel and Chair & President of Greektown Neighborhood Partnership

When you first meet Athina, it is very clear that she is a focused, hardworking business executive whose leadership shapes the way for the hotel’s continued success. 

Athina graduated from the University of Michigan and studied at the Culinary Institute in France. She came back to Detroit after school and owned or managed several successful restaurants in the area before taking the helm full-time at Atheneum.  

Athina admits how attached to Detroit she is, and that attachment extends to her commitment to the Greektown community. She acknowledges the vision her family had for Detroit and is proud to be a part of its future.  

Now, with the newest multi-million-dollar renovation of the hotel underway, the excitement builds for the next chapter. A new restaurant has been unveiled and all the staff is looking forward to a return to the days when this was a well visited “Happy Hour” location.  Not content to focus on just one thing, Athina is really excited about the plans to expand Greektown and has also been working with the city planners on that project. 

I wondered how this executive, mom, wife, community activist and all-around nice person makes it all look so easy. She said, “With a lot of help and the support of my family. My husband helps and is really involved with the kids,” and her passion for the city makes the work easy for her. “The more I can get involved with the growth, expansion and be a part of it…it has always been exciting to me.” 

Athenuem Suites Hotel 

1000 Brush  

Detroit, MI 48226 

313-962-2323 

Website 

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