Todd Zapolski’s original life plan didn’t involve real estate. Rather, as he took some time off as a young man, law school was in order. For the North Bay and Napa in particular—and for Todd, too—that extra time paid dividends. Zapolski switched gears, founding his first company in 1982, followed by a few partnership entities that led to the start of Zapolski Real Estate in 2007. His years of experience in the Bay Area and the Southeast led to the company’s instrumental role in developing First Street Napa. Though Zapolski’s career path deviated, it led him to a passionate profession—even as a child, he had an interest in the built environment.
Outside the world of real estate, Zapolski, who was born in New York and raised in Princeton, N.J., follows college basketball with fervor, holding a keen interest in his alma mater: hoops powerhouse, Duke University. His wife, Diana, a fellow Duke graduate, and daughters, Alix, Christina and Dylan share Zapolski’s love for the game. Additionally, Zapolski enjoys staying physically active, collecting political memorabilia, sampling quality wine and food, serving on charity boards and spending time with Dylan, his last daughter still living at home. He counts his greatest professional achievement as creating positive change in numerous communities. As for his best quality, Zapolski puts his loyalty in relationships, both business and personal, at the top of the list.
If you could live forever on earth, would you do so? Why or why not?
If I could remain sound in mind and body, yes, I would. It beats the alternative, as well.
What do you find fascinating about political memorabilia?
The material captures American political and cultural history. The designs and slogans reflect the tone of the time. Each tells its own story.
What are some of the most memorable Duke basketball games you’ve attended?
Yikes. Not counting undergrad, I’ve had my tickets for 28 seasons. I’ve seen many of the all-time NBA pros when they were players at Duke, or when they visited as an opponent—Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and Grant Hill among them. There have been a couple of buzzer beater wins against North Carolina (the ultimate Duke rival) that would be at the top. Also memorable were games with one-and-done freshman players Kyrie Irving and Zion Williamson.
If you were to star in a movie, what would be your ideal role?
My whole life, James Bond has been a leading character. Sometimes I feel like Forest Gump, but it would need to be Bond.
If you could be a radio or television personality, what kind of program would you choose?
A talk show. It would be a blast to get folks from all spectrums and challenge them to exchange in engaging conversation.
What's your favorite wine varietal and what do you like about it?
If it’s well produced, I like the wine. As to the varietal, it often depends on the time of day, with a meal or not, and the weather.
What's your favorite style of music, and how often do you listen to it?
I listen to traditional rock, jazz and classical, with each dependent on what type of mood or environment I’m in.
What's your favorite place to take out-of-town guests?
Sky & Vine Rooftop Bar at Archer Hotel, First Street Napa.
If you could go back in time, what year would you visit?
1912. It was the year Taft, Roosevelt and Wilson were running for President. Well into the industrial revolution and prior to World War One.
What's your favorite kind of candy?
My Polish grandmother caused me to not crave candy. I’m more drawn to chips or nuts.
What is some recent or memorable charity work that you've been a part of?
Currently, my primary charity work involves health related organizations that often offer emotional memories. Meeting a young adult that had their life saved by clinical trials supported by the V Foundation for Cancer Research is a victory that remains with me, and is a motivation to do more as well.
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