Thursday, December 12, 2019

Meet the Boston Mom Who Makes $400 an Hour — Eating Cannoli with Strangers

Boston's North End
Free market entrepreneurship is awesome. -RW

By Brett Arends

Some people love their jobs. Some people hate them. Then there’s 38-year-old mother of two Paula Noukas. “I’m living the dream,” she jokes. “I get perfect strangers from all around the world to sit down and eat together.”

Her job: Giving food-and-history tours of Boston’s North End, the famous and picturesque Little Italy that is also home to the Old North Church.

Her tours, named “Off The Eaten Path,” combine a physical visit to the neighborhood with a metaphorical tour of Italy. And plenty of food — including not just pizza, arancini and cannoli, but Italian olive oils, cheeses, wines, and an aged Italian balsamic vinegar that tastes absolutely nothing like any balsamic vinegar you’ve ever tasted, and which you could probably drink on its own.

Demand is so strong that she is making a remarkable living for, effectively, showing people around her neighborhood, talking and eating. Tours last three hours. Noukas limits them to 16 people at a time. She charges $75 a person. That works out at $400 an hour. Plus tips.

“It’s not Wall Street,” says Noukas. “I lead a comfortable life.”

It may not be Wall Street but it stacks up pretty well. The average lawyer in Boston earns $80 an hour, say government statistics. The average surgeon makes $120.

And she’s busy. She gives up to eight tours a week through spring, summer and fall. The tours are full.

“I work anywhere between four and six days a week,” she said. “When I work, I work. I want to make more money, I open up a tour.”

Ten years ago, she was just another office worker. She had a job raising money for a nonprofit. “I hated it,” the Boston University art history major recalls. “I’m not an office person. I’m not a 9-to-5-er.”

Read the rest here.


  1. Great story, but to be fair as any entrepreneur knows she isn't getting paid for the time she spends marketing, doing her books, researching tour routes, etc. So the $400/hr is likely an overestimate.

    1. Plus she gives 8 tours a week @ three hours a tour or she works 24 hours per week. Not too shabby at $400 per hour ($52K per a) but a typical lawyer during prime working years works 70 plus hours per week and a typical surgeon probably more hours per week.