S2:EP23 - Peter Demos, Fourth Generation Restauranteur: The Journey To Impact
S2:EP23 - Peter Demos, Fourth Generation Restauranteur: The Journey To Impact
In this episode, I interview Peter Demos; the CEO and President of Demos brands.
Peter is a fourth generation restauranteur, who has been in the restaurant business since he was 12 years old. He is so passionate about the industry that he chose to forego his law degree to follow his desire for helping people. Peter believes that the restaurant space is actually one of the best industries to be in if you want to impact lives.
From building the Demos brand to implementing a successful morning routine in his life, Peter brings a ton of knowledge to this interview.
If you are a restauranteur that wants a jump start on your restaurant business and learn how to instill values into your team, then you will get a ton of useful insight from this episode.
Brett Linkletter: In this episode of Restaurant Misfits, I interview Peter Demos, who's the CEO and president of Demos Brands. Peter is a fourth generation restauranteur. He's been in the restaurant business pretty much his entire life since he was 12 years old. He loves this industry. He loves every aspect of it, from really what he does as a restauranteur helping people all the way to how he is also helping his employees and instilling values in them. He believes that the restaurant business is one of the best industries in which you really can help people. He actually had a law degree and was going to pursue a career as an attorney and turned back to the restaurant space because he really just loved what he was about and how he again could help people. We had a fantastic conversation from what he's done as a brand to stay afloat during the COVID pandemic, to a variety of other topics including his morning routines and how he believes that helps him stay successful. If you listen to other podcasts in the past, what you'll know is I also love morning routines. We talked a lot about this quite a bit. If you're looking to learn something new today, if you're looking to get a jumpstart in your business and you're looking to really instill some values in your team, I think you're going to love this episode, so let's dive right in. Hi, my name is Brett Linkletter, CEO and founder of Misfit Media, best damn restaurant marketing agency on the planet. Here at Misfit, we help restaurant owners grow and scale their business through strategic online marketing practices. Right now, you're listening to our podcasts, Restaurant Misfits. We'll discuss all things related to restaurant marketing, management and everything else in between growing a restaurant business. This podcast is also brought to you in collaboration with Total Food Service. For over 30 years, Total Food Service has provided the restaurant and food service industry with exclusive interviews, to the latest news on products, trends, associations and events. You can sign up for a free monthly subscription by visiting totalfood. com today. From all the Misfits over here, we hope you enjoy the show. Cheers. Peter, how you doing?
Peter Demos: I'm doing great. How are you today?
Brett Linkletter: I'm doing well. I'm doing well. It's been insanely hot here in LA. It just got really cold all of a sudden this day which is weird, everyone's freaking out, but other than that, everything's good. Everything's good. Peter, you're the president and CEO of Demos Brands. It's a family business, right? You guys have had it for a while?
Peter Demos: Yeah, my father started it in inaudible. I'm actually fourth generation restaurant operator, but my father started a restaurant called Demos' Restaurant or is actually called Demos' Steak and Spaghetti House and later we changed it to the Demos' Restaurant back in 1989. Then he sold the restaurant to me and my sister in 2009. Then I've been operating it actually since 2001. Then we started another restaurant chain called PDK Southern Kitchen and Pantry. We have both of those both of those units. We had three stores of one and then two of the other that we are that we're operating. We're about to open up our third PDK sometime later this year.
Brett Linkletter: Amazing. Amazing. For everyone who's just learning about you for the first time in your brands here, can you just give us a quick intro on really, obviously a fourth generation restaurateur in the business, but tell me how you got going in this business?
Peter Demos: The way I got going was when I was 12 years old, my father had a Western Sizzlin franchise and that's what brought him to the Nashville- Tennessee area. He was a franchisee. When I was 12 years old, I started washing dishes and then just worked my way through various things, whether it was frying, grilling, just doing whatever I could and just worked my way throughout all of those areas. Then I went to college at University of Memphis. At that time, it was Memphis State. He and my mother started Demos' while I was gone. Then I found out in college that girls and credit cards were not a good combination and ended up horribly in debt, ran home. Basically, I had to come back and then I went to school here locally at Middle Tennessee State University to get my life back together for a bit. I started working at the restaurant there and eventually started managing and then became a general manager and then left to go to law school, became a lawyer. One day, I was sitting there saying, " I don't know if I want to do this. When I was working in restaurants, I felt like I was helping people more than I did as an attorney." I keep my license up to date, but I chose to come back into the restaurant field and then that's how we took over from there.
Brett Linkletter: Awesome. You said you felt like you were helping people more working as a restaurateur then?
Peter Demos: Yeah. I went into law because I read about these great civil rights lawyers and these wonderful cases and that's absolutely true. There's some amazing lawyers out there that do a lot of amazing things. The problem was that's only a small section of what they do. I'm not a paperwork kind of guy. I'm sitting there doing paperwork. I was working actually in the restaurant part time while I was practicing law. I was listening to these lawyers have a conversation in the office next to mine and I thought, " I don't want to have that conversation in 20 years." It wasn't anything big. It was actually so minor that I can't remember what it was, but I just remember thinking, " I don't want that to be my life." That's when I decided, so I called my father. What I didn't know was my father at that time was actually looking to sell the restaurant to somebody because he was getting to the age where he physically couldn't do it. He was overwhelmed and excited. Again, I came back and then it was a matter of telling my brand new fiancee that, " Hey, you're not marrying a lawyer anymore. You're marrying somebody washes pots and pans for a living."
Brett Linkletter: How did she take that?
Peter Demos: Well, she actually inaudible because I met her in the restaurant. She actually worked for my parents.
Brett Linkletter: Got it. Oh, really?
Peter Demos: The funny thing was when I was in law school in Kansas City, my mother called me and said, " Hey, I found the girl I want you to marry." I'm like, " You understand, I'm not going be anywhere near there. I probably will never meet her," and all that stuff. I laughed at her. She also told her the exact same thing. Well, when I came back, funny thing was we met, we were dating, we were engaged within two and a half or three and a half months after we met and married less than a year after we met.
Brett Linkletter: No way. Wow.
Peter Demos: Yeah, we've been married 22 years now. For her, her family was in construction and they work together and there was a whole lot of fighting, etcetera, so she was very nervous about being in the family business- type stuff.
Brett Linkletter: Got it.
Peter Demos: She's now part of the family business. She actually is our director of brand marketing, the brand management, I'm sorry, and she's completely invaluable to me.
Brett Linkletter: Got it.
Peter Demos: I'm very direct. She's very not. I'll say stuff and she's like, " Hey, you may want to soften that a little bit."
Brett Linkletter: 100%. By the way, I apologize, so it's pronounced Demos, right? Not Demas.
Peter Demos: That's correct. It's Demos. Don't worry.
Brett Linkletter: My apologies.
Peter Demos: No worries at all. I've had people call and they get in arguments and they will call me. I had a guy put cable into our house and he called me later that day said he and his wife were arguing about how to pronounce the name of the restaurant.
Brett Linkletter: Oh, my god.
Peter Demos: We don't care. As long as you show up or buy from us, you can call us whatever you want to call us. We don't really care.
Brett Linkletter: Absolutely. Absolutely. Obviously, running multiple restaurant locations can be a lot, right? Look, here at Misfit Media, our agency, we serve hundreds of restaurants and we've seen, god, so many just take on such a heavy toll because of COVID, right? Has COVID affected you guys in a very crazy way, I'm sure, right?
Peter Demos: Yeah, it's funny, I have a routine every morning, I get up, I read my Bible and I journal. It's funny because when I was looking back at my journal, part of it, I started off by saying, " Hey, this is what's going on. There's this odd thing coming out from China. It might impact us some. I'm not really quite sure," and then I fell for the two weeks' dialogue as well. I talked with our general managers, it was on a Thursday, and I talked with general managers. I told him, I said, " Hey, this is going to be impacting us, but it'll probably be a couple months. Don't worry about it." On Saturday, I wrote my journal, "This is coming faster than I thought. Well, you need to hang on. It's about to be a bumpy ride." Then by Tuesday, we had to lay off all of our servers. The dining rooms were close. Our governor and President were saying, " Don't eat inside restaurants." All of that stuff was happening at that moment and it came with such force and you just didn't really know and everything was changing. The science was changing. The rules were changing. Everything was changing on such a frequent basis that it happened. That was really the struggle of it, but I even called a bankruptcy attorney and said, " Look, I don't know if we're going to make it, so I want to be prepared because I want to do the right thing and be prepared from it." I literally go from top of the world to paying off all debt and current liabilities are hundreds of 1000s of dollar behind, trying to work that out, but God's faithfulness got us through it and we got to see it at the end of the year. We actually ended up cashflow positive at the end of the year.
Brett Linkletter: Love it.
Peter Demos: I'm like nonprofit level, but-
Brett Linkletter: crosstalk. Here's a crazy stat.
Peter Demos: All right.
Brett Linkletter: Beginning of COVID, we had just over 120 restaurant concepts that we were working with across all of North America and actually a few in the UK area. By the end of April, I believe, we had dropped down to 60.
Peter Demos: Oh, my goodness.
Brett Linkletter: Our business took a heavy hit, right? I would say, of those 60 concepts that we were working with, I would say 30%, 40%, they went out of business completely. It's sad, it's awful and it's been tough. You guys, you're based in Tennessee, right?
Peter Demos: Yes. Yeah.
Brett Linkletter: It's funny. Actually I was in Nashville for a bachelor's party the last week of March when all this news came out. Obviously, Nashville, it's such a great fun place to be. It went from one night having a great bachelor's party to everyone was just terrified, " What's going to happen?" There was so much unknown at the time, right? I was like, " Am I going to be stuck here? I'm glad to have my computer." I had no idea what was going to happen. I was getting calls from clients and close family and friends. They know I'm in the restaurant business, " Are you guys going to be okay?" I'm like, " Oh, I think, yeah. What is this? This sounds stupid," but little did we know what was about to happen on the other side, right?
Peter Demos: Right.
Brett Linkletter: How many locations in total do you guys have at this point?
Peter Demos: Well, at this point, we have five total locations with one that the shell is being built and so we'll be going in there. I've actually literally just signed, just set up a meeting with our equipment people to start with that process. Right now, it's five, about to have six. Before COVID we had six, but we had one of our locations that was in Downtown Nashville and that lease was ending when COVID hit. We still had a little bit of time left on.
Brett Linkletter: Got it.
Peter Demos: We were already looking at moving because the rental rates in Nashville were tripling. We're already looking at moving anyway when that took place. With COVID happening, things getting shut down and then the landlord wasn't very cooperative with us and so we ended up just, go ahead and killing that lease a little early.
Brett Linkletter: Got it. Got it.
Peter Demos: Which ended up inaudible then shortly and then Christmas time, we had the Christmas bombing. That made the building that we were in uninhabitable anyway. We were one block away from that bomb. If you walked out our front door, you hit the AT&T building that blew up...
Brett Linkletter: Oh, my god.
Peter Demos: ..from the Christmas bombing. That was my first place I was the general manager. When it went off, I that was an extremely upsetting time for me because that's the area I grew up in. I was walking around. I could walk around Nashville, I'm seeing on the news, the places that I would hang out and do that was just gone, just the-
Brett Linkletter: Totally, 100%. Wow, that's nuts. Peter, you mentioned a few minutes ago that you have a very specific morning routine. You wake up, you read the Bible, you write in a journal. Can you elaborate on your morning routine a little bit because I personally I think morning routines are such a key to our success as a business. I recommend all our employees do this as well. I love journaling as well. I'm very big on a specific routine around you wake up. Tell me about your routine because I think that does play a big part of it. I'm really curious what you do specifically.
Peter Demos: It was interesting. I found Christ about seven years ago or, gosh, longer than that now because 2020 has killed all your time reference to anything anymore, but before that, I would wake up, play on my phone and I would go work out and then start my day, but then afterward, I realized there was more important times to clear my clear my head as well. Really when I wake up is I do look at my phone a little bit just to get my eyes focus for 510 minutes. I grab coffee. I sit down the table. I read my Bible. Do a little Bible study. I read. I pray and I journal and do all that during that time. Then that's when I'll get up and I shower and do that stuff. Then I'll head into work. It depends then, if I'm hitting in the office part, then what I'll do is I come in and I'll look at the reports and look at different things to know what I need to look at, to talk with our director of operations about, handle it from that side. If I'm going in to the restaurant side, then I go in. I generally know what I'm looking for because I look at those reports. I go in and I hit those areas first. Our manager is, " How did you catch that?" "Because I already knew what I was looking for before I walked in." What I'm basically doing is just setting that up and going in and then talking with people. It's amazing your employees will tell you more about how to fix problems than anybody else will. I have this rule that you go five geographic feet from a problem. If we have an issue with carryout, obviously, our carryout blew up because of COVID, we had our cooks line wasn't prepared for that much extra volume of go boxes and our cashier stand who's handling carryout wasn't prepared for that volume either. What I would do is I would make sure I have conversations with those cooks and get their ideas and get their suggestions. Sometimes they're awesome. Sometimes they're really dumb, but I do the same thing. Sometimes I have awesome ideas and sometimes I think I have awesome ideas and they really don't work out. That's part of that beginning part of the routine.
Brett Linkletter: Got it.
Peter Demos: In this industry, things change and happen so frequently you just have to go from there and plan it that way.
Brett Linkletter: 100%. I think that's really cool though that you do that. For me, I have a very similar routine, I guess, in some ways, right? I wake up. I like to do a little bit of reading. It could be anything. It could be just reading for pleasure or it could be some book on marketing, sales, whatever business strategies. I just like to read something in the morning. I like to do some meditation, working my mind right and then I like to really start my day and a journal. I love journaling by the way. Do you have a specific routine that you follow with your journal or is it just whatever's on your mind or anything specific?
Peter Demos: I actually start off with just a few numbers every day. I start off with the date, the number of days that I've reading the Bible, the number of days that I've journaled because one of the things I find interesting is if I don't write the number of days I've journaled, I'll fall off. I try journaling several times in the past, it just didn't work. Some days, my journal is one line. It's just one line because I want to just get to the next stakes. Yeah, I'll wake up late every now and then or I have an earlier meeting than I thought. Things just change. Sometimes just one line and sometimes it's like three or four pages, but as long as I do that, it forces me into a habit. Then my next numbers are people that I share the gospel with and memory verses and then my last number is my weight because, in this business, I wanted to be low carb, but then we have a problem with bread every single time and I have to eat 40 pieces of bread to try to figure out what the problem is. It doesn't work well with the low carb diet. Then as far as the journal goes, a lot of it is you I might just talk about things that's on my mind that's happening, prayers. Then as I pray, anything that I feel that God's leading me to that I write down and then what I will do every now and then is I go back and look at old journals and I look at it. It's amazing to see all the different ways that again things that were a big deal then that aren't now or things that was really important that I got to see an answer and a resolution to and that's been so good and helpful in going back and looking at those journals and also recognize that my kids will probably want my journals one day...
Brett Linkletter: For sure.
Peter Demos: ...to have a better understanding of who I am and know that I wasn't dad. I had like feelings and emotions and all of that stuff. They need to know that.
Brett Linkletter: I love that.
Peter Demos: Teenagers, I got to be dad because I can't show any weakness.
Brett Linkletter: I hear you on that. I like this a lot and the reason I'm spending so much time on the journal thing is I personally have gotten such a big benefit from it and I recommend it to all of our employees. I recommend it to anyone that I'm consulting in business and it seems like people just don't want to adopt it. They get lazy about it. They don't see the value, but it's one of those things where I'm glad that it's such a big thing for you, it's such a big thing for me, and again, I think it's something that for me, at least what it does, is it helps tie my thoughts across time. It helps me see things clear. Like you said, you can refer back to it and see what you were thinking at the time. You almost can reminisce on that moment. As you progress and grow as a business leader or a dad or whatever it is, you can see that the path you've taken and I love that. I think that's really cool.
Peter Demos: Studies have shown that when you write down your goals, you're more likely to achieve them and you're more likely to achieve them at a higher rate. I also help coach our soccer team. Truthfully, we've had a terrible soccer team and this year.. Actually it started last year, but COVID killed our season, but this year, I created goals. I didn't create them. I had them create their own goals, individual and team goals. Then periodically about every couple of weeks, I hand them their goals back out and let them see where they are. What's amazing is this year, our team, we won more district games than we've had in the previous four years. We're actually playing well. We're playing together as a team. We're not fighting each other. I think so much of it is attributed to the fact that they're writing that stuff down. Because I wrote a book, it's amazing when you put it on paper, and I speak to groups, you can go, " Oh, man, I misspoke." But on a book, it's on paper, it's on paper. You can't do anything about it. I think when you write it down, it forces you to commit to it much stronger than-
Brett Linkletter: Totally. I'm so glad you brought it up. Afraid to Trust, right? That's the title of book?
Peter Demos: Yes.
Brett Linkletter: I wanted to get that too. I think that's amazing by the way and so congrats on that by the way. That's fantastic and I love what you just said. It's that once you put it in writing, yes, 100%, it's more real and you stick to it. Once you've written a book, it's that times a thousand, I would say, right? It helps. I wrote a book to actually. It's called Misfit Marketing for Restaurants. Wow, was that tough and why do I refer back to it quite a bit though, like you just mentioned, right?
Peter Demos: Right. Yeah.
Brett Linkletter: Tell me about the book. I want to hear more about that. What is the premise behind it?
Peter Demos: The book, again I speak to different groups, I speak to them both on restaurant topics as well as Christian topics. This book, it was about my journey and how I found Christ was the first part of it, but then the next section of was, we've had a business that was 23 years at the time and I said, " All right, now we're going to be a purpose- driven business as opposed to a customer- seeking business," part of that transition of moving it to purpose- driven business and the impact was huge. I did a survey around that time and our employees said, " We had a toxic work environment." Well, the last three years, we've been named the top workplaces in Middle Tennessee for large businesses, voted by our employees. We're the only restaurant that's in the category as well. Then the last part was is we also open up another restaurant called Peter D's and it was more of an upscale casual restaurant. If anything could go wrong, it did. The construction was off. The plans were off by feet in both directions. Just everything collapsed. We had long ticket times, bad service. Everything would mess up. It was learning how to handle that fear, those 2: 00 AM moments of, " My reputation, my money," everything that you normally put security and like, " How do I handle that?" It's a practical guide through my story to help people get through that because truthfully in all life, you're either in a crisis, about to be in a crisis or just finished a crisis. No one is exempt from that. We have to learn how to deal with it without popping pills or just crawling under the bed. Even though we may want to do either one of those, it's just not something that is practical or something we ought to be doing.
Brett Linkletter: Yeah. 100%. Well, talk about crisis, I think especially in the restaurant industry, I interviewed someone recently, his name's Ken McGarry and he's a restaurant consultant. He's authored this book about just being a restaurant manager, essentially. I read that just so far the foreword of his book literally a couple nights ago. The foreword of his book, I forget the name of the restaurateur that wrote the foreword for him, but the way he described the restaurant space was being a restaurant manager or being a restaurant owner is like running a business and at the drop of a pin, all of a sudden, you're getting slapped in the face, right? At any given moment, you're just going to get hit and you got to expect it. You got to just roll with the punches and that is the business. You're doing your thing and slapped on the face, cheap shots all the time. Talk about being in a crisis, this industry, that's what it's about. That's what it comes down to you, but hey, we end up loving it. We love it.
Peter Demos: Well, that's the thing, I didn't even realize because again, I grew up in it and law is not a low stress job either, but again, I still worked restaurants part time, given the families always been around it. I'm part of a group called C12 and C12 is a group of Christian business executives and owners that get together, and actually, they're now international group, but there's 12 of us that get together in small groups on it. I'm listening to them talk about their business issues and I'm like, " Wow, that's your issue." Then they hear mine and they're like, " Yeah, we don't have any advice for you. We've never experienced that." I'm like, " Wait, you get to play golf? When do you have time to play golf?
Brett Linkletter: I know.
Peter Demos: The truth of the matter is the impact that that I get to make on our staff and our employees and changes we make because unfortunately, so many of our people, the hourly employees that work for us, it's either they're just starting out or they made some really bad decisions in their life. To be able to have that type of positive impact and teach them discipline and teach them values and teach them to stuff that they may not have gotten at home or that they needed somebody else to reinforce to me, it's so worth it, such amazing opportunities that we have before us. I think that's the thing that's so incredible about this business. In addition to the fact that customers, it's the exact same thing. People don't eat out because they're hungry. If they wanted that, a piece of bread and a piece of cheese would satisfy that. I've made many meals that way, but they come out because they're there for the experience of it. We're offering them so much more than just to satisfy their hunger. You have a bad day, you go there. You hate your job, you're looking forward to eating out. There's all of this stuff that happens surrounding restaurants, just amazing industry and just amazing people that we get to interact with and crazies too. That's the fun part about it.
Brett Linkletter: I think what you just said, there's something. I think that is why at the core why a lot of restaurateurs get into this business because they like to delight people. It's like the same thing, when you see a chef, " When does any chef become a chef?" They like making food so much and they like seeing people smile even more from eating their food.
Peter Demos: Right.
Brett Linkletter: That's what it's about. They like delighting people. They like to see that smile on their face. They like to see that excitement. That is what we're after. We're really entertainers and we're helping people. Like you just said, someone might come into the day, tough day, they just want a really nice meal, they want to have that experience. Being able to be that person for them is a great feeling. I've told so many people in business when they're looking for their calling, what they want to do, I said, " Look, in any business, if you can find a way to make money, help people and have fun, that's winning life. Wow, that is that's winning life. That's winning business, right?"
Peter Demos: If you don't enjoy helping people, don't go in this business. There's plenty of us in it because there are awesome cooks out there that don't want to see them smile. They just want to pretend like, " Look how great I am because I can make this inaudible and taste good," and that's awesome and that's great, but that you're in the wrong business. You need to be doing something else because again, it's that it's that purpose, it's why we do what we do. If we're not doing it for the right reasons, you get a job at the government, be a Postal Service carrier, but you got to do something else besides something that involves customers because this job is too hard for you not to enjoy.
Brett Linkletter: Absolutely.
Peter Demos: It really is.
Brett Linkletter: Absolutely. Absolutely. For you obviously, what I love about, you mentioned this a few minutes ago too, is you want to be a resource for your employees, it seems like, you want to teach and instill values and then life values even, not just, " Hey, do want a workplace?" but other values. Is a lot of that influence part of your Christian faith? Do you-
Peter Demos: Yeah, it was. What happened was is, when I finally met Christ, I said okay, " I'm turning everything over to you," and that meant my business too. One of the things that we did was we bought in a chaplain. Our chaplains are there 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It's not only for that but also for their families, so they can call, employees that are in jail. Our chaplains make jail visits, hospital visits. They perform funerals and marriages. Again, just they're there just to help and everything's confidential. You can call them and say, " Look, I got this massive drug problem. I need help," and they'll never tell me. We get to provide that opportunity for them in that area. We've done things like we've had a... I was noticing that people were walking to and from work a few years back and it was the southern hot days that are really humid. W purchased a bunch of bikes from a local bike shop, brand new bikes and we gave away the bikes to employees that were there. I love it could have been cars, but we couldn't afford cars, but we could afford bikes for the people. We were able to give them that, but then we also teach them an orientation and a weekly. We give a weekly premeal or we have a daily premeal that we change once a week and we talk about our value of the week. If our value of the week is accountability, we talk about the value of accountability or if the value is integrity or humility, we talk about what that is because many people don't even know what a value is anymore. They're not taught that. They're taught, " This is what you do." It's like a computer, I have to hit enter in order to figure out, not the reason why I hit enter. Then there's the, " Why we do things?" When you know your why, your what becomes more valuable.
Brett Linkletter: I so much agree with what you just said. I said the exact same thing all the time. You have to know your why or nothing else makes sense, literally.
Peter Demos: Right.
Brett Linkletter: At every single level, I say, even in our business too, it's like, " Hey, we're switching to this new program. Here's every single reason why, how it benefits you as our employee, how it benefits our company and our clients." There's a big why behind everything because if you have the why, you understand the system in why you're doing it, right? Obviously at the most basic level. Let's talk about, I want to go back to fear in general because it seems like you've really conquered fear, but also I want to talk about that because I think what COVID has done is instill fear. The media has instilled fear. COVID has instilled fear. I don't want to go too deep into politics and all this kind of stuff.
Peter Demos: No, I understand.
Brett Linkletter: Look, I'm in California and I'm around a lot of people that, let's just say I'm not on their side. I can already tell I'm on your side on this kind of stuff, so just to be clear, but there's a lot of fearmongering, it seems like, and so people are tense, people are afraid. What are some kind of strategies you might have for conquering that fear in life or in business in general?
Peter Demos: Yes. I can tell you, just to give you an idea of the fear and why it's not politicized, it was not uncommon for during the same day that we would have people that would come in and yell at us because we did close down dining rooms or we were requiring our employees to wear face mask per the law and we were yelling at this thing, that all of this is unconstitutional. There'll be, that said, they'd yell and scream at us, but in reality, that was fear too. That was fear of something else was going on in their lives. There were fear that the rights are going to be trampled. That was that. Then on the other hand, you had people that literally they would come out, they would put a note up on their window and pop the trunk saying, " Put the food in the trunk," and having to close, we're into mass driving. You have the opposite side and then people wouldn't come out at all. We're dealing with both sides of fear on it and we're having to handle both sides of it. In reality, what I came to recognize is the opposite of fear is not courage because you think medal honor winners, when they get their medal, they'll talk about how scared they were in that moment or police officers when they're about go into a big bus into a house, they're afraid, even though they're still being courageous. That's not the opposite of fear.
Brett Linkletter: Got it.
Peter Demos: The opposite of fear is actually trust. Even if you're going to apply it let's say in a relationship, if I didn't trust my wife, it was because I'm afraid that she's cheating on me, but because I realized, because I trust my wife, I don't have that fear. I she is 30 minutes late, I don't have the fear that, " Oh, my goodness, what is she doing. I don't know where she is. I need to put a GPS on her phone," I don't have to worry about that because I trust her, so I don't have that fear. One of the things that recognize by starting with it, one of the things we do and I advise this to teenagers all the way up to senior citizens is, is if you write out and... What we do is we write out everything we're thankful for and we start out by it. Sometimes you can't because you're just so overwhelmed with fear and worry and anxiety that you just can't do it. I started out with something simple like, " I'm thankful living in a community that has a grocery store on almost every corner," and then from there, if that's still not good enough, " I'm thankful that in that grocery store, there's an awful lot of cookies."
Brett Linkletter: Got it.
Peter Demos: Then even from there, " I got 20 different types of Oreos. There are places in this world that don't even have an Oreo at all."
Brett Linkletter: Totally.
Peter Demos: I can be thankful for that type of stuff, but once I start that process, then it just starts to flow, thanking God for my health and I start thanking. I get down to the bottom and then at the end of that, I literally go through and I start praying over it and I just say, " Thank you. God, I thank you for this and I thank you for this," and I say it out loud because when you verbalize it, it becomes a lot more real, so I'm writing it down, I'm verbalizing it, I'm speaking it and I'm thanking God for these things that he's given me. At that point in time, I write down what I'm afraid of, " I'm afraid our restaurants might close," and then I change that link and I say, " I don't trust that God is going to take care of me with these restaurants." Then it's like, " Wow, I'm being ridiculous, because the restaurant closes, that's fine. I'll be somewhere else." It's a matter of just trusting. It's not I sit back and be, " Oh, well, I have to worry about it and don't go through it, but it becomes a matter of, " Who do I not trust that's creating this fear?" The fear again isn't sitting in a corner afraid. I was afraid before I was afraid that people were going to see me as a fraud, that wasn't a good restaurant person. I was angry all the time. My fear manifested in anger or it could manifest in jealousy or it could manifest in, " I just want to sit at home under the covers," but ultimately, I figured out, " Okay, who is it that I don't trust?" and it could be a person or it could be God that I don't trust. Either way, that's how I play with it and go from there. It's not a matter that I conquer it, it's a matter of when fear comes over, I learned how to adapt to it and how to really phrase it in a way that I can address it head on.
Brett Linkletter: I love that. Wow, that is going to be a highlight of this episode for sure. That is amazing. I love that, but thank you for that though because again it is, I would say, probably the last 15 episodes of our podcast have been a big part of that people are scared. People are scared right now. I'm hopeful that things are going to be clearing up real soon for us here in the States at least. Knock on wood, let's pray that's the case, but I think whatever the case, whether COVID or not, there is always fear around. Fear, like you said, being the CEO of a new business, starting a new company, diving into a new relationship, whatever the case, there's always fear right there in front of us. Learning how to address that, this is absolutely huge. Going back, I know this is the last time I'll do it, but going back to the journal, the one thing I just want to tell you what I do and I want to hear your thoughts, I write down five things in my journal. I write down two things I was thankful for from the day before, practicing gratitude, two things that I will do that day and then, one goal of mine that I'm looking to accomplish, more of a long- term thing. I find just doing that every day, you get your stuff done and also practicing gratitude, right? Practicing gratitude, just being thankful, " I'm thankful that I'm still in business. I'm thankful for my position as a CEO of this company. I'm thankful for all these things that I do. I thankful for my friends and our team and all that kind of stuff." I think that's something to where people got to be more thankful right now. I feel like pointing fingers at the government or this or that or whatever, it's like, " We have so much to be thankful for. Come on."
Peter Demos: I agree completely. Let me tell you, one of the ways we start off our general manager meetings is we always start off with what we call the positive focus. Everyone has to go around and have to say three things. We have these meetings once every four weeks. We're like, " Okay, name three things that's happened over that last period that's positive." You can do all personal, you can do all business, you could do mix or match, it doesn't matter, but I've learned by them starting with the positives, because especially in this business, we have so much focus on what's wrong and so much can change. As you said, you're going in, you're expecting that punch. When that punch comes, we can get so caught up in it that we forget to be positive about things to look for those positive things. Now, it doesn't mean again, we should ignore all the negatives. I hear people say all the time, " Only look at positives." No, that's stupid because the problems don't go away on their own. They grow arms and legs and become bigger, but we do can focus start with the positives, but the other thing on the journal piece that I think is really funny and I didn't mention this because I didn't think about it, but when my wife and I are fighting or we're bickering at each other or she's just making me mad, I hadn't even told her yet, one of the things that I do is, at the very beginning, I write a positive about her and has to be very specific." She cooked dinner for me last night or she did this. She did this for my son. It was really amazing. She talked to my daughter about something I didn't want to talk to my daughter about," whatever it happens to be and what's amazing is after about three days of me writing something positive down about her, miraculously she changes. Well, it's not because she sees it or knows it's because my attitude toward her changes. Instead of me getting all like, " I can't believe she didn't say hi to me the other day," and acting that way, by me starting focusing on those positive things, my attitude toward her changes which either reflects, so either she does change because my attitude changed or just my attitude changed, and just the way I view it, my lens changes because I'm looking at it positively.
Brett Linkletter: Wow.
Peter Demos: It's incredible. We were in such a terrible place in our marriage about nine, 10 years of marriage. We had a marriage counselor tells us to get a divorce literally. This year we'll be married 22 years and a couple months.
Brett Linkletter: Congrats. That's awesome.
Peter Demos: It's incredible, if we had started looking at each other in that regard back then, we never would have even had to go to counseling. It's incredible, but we all want to get so caught up in what's happening to me, " All this is happening to me," and not like, " Wow, look at all the great stuff that's happening to me and look at all the great stuff for the people that are impacting my life."
Brett Linkletter: Everyone wants to play the victim these days and I'm so sick of it, but really, my generation, especially, oh, my god, Millennials just-
Peter Demos: We complain about you all the time, trust me.
Brett Linkletter: I'm one of them and I can't stand it. It drives me nuts. I'm ashamed of my generation in that regard. I'm like, " Guys, you have full control of your life. You don't need to rely on the government, you don't need to rely on anyone else and stop complaining. You have an amazing life. Come on," but you said something here too which was also really good, a lot of good fireballs they have acknowledged this is amazing," but you said something about, it's like, " Look, you start focusing on all the things you're thankful for," end of the day, really what you're saying is everything is pretty much internal. It's you create your own lens on the world of how you're going to see things. There was this book I read recently. It's called The Diamond Cutter. It's really interesting. It's a really random book I came across, it sounded interesting to me. It's basically about a guy who was the third employee at a diamond business on the east coast. I think it was in New York. It talks about how they scale to$ 100 million plus business, practicing really a lot of practices of the Buddha. The big thing about it though is everything's internal, taking full responsibility for your life and your actions and where you're at and recognizing that nothing that ever happens to us is really ever good or bad, but really how we perceive it. It was so interesting.
Peter Demos: Well, there's a level of truth to that, but in reality is bad stuff does happen to us. Again, those restaurants that you talked about the close, bad stuff happened, but it's not necessarily like.... Again, it's how we react to those bad things and recognize that that's just not necessarily where God wanted you at that moment. It's not always a... Just because we look at it as, " This is bad..." I can give you an example. I was on the debate team, was pretty good debater. My partner was amazing. As a result, we did extremely well. One year, we were planning on getting really high up on a national circuit. We had an apartment fire and killed everything. At that time, that was the worst thing ever for me. All that ended, but I can tell you, because of that, it got me focused toward the end of school. I was able to start working on my career path and moving from there. I've had my heart broken before. Well, if I didn't have my heart broken, I never would have met my wife right now. There's a lot of bad things that happened to us, but again, it's the, " Are we going to kind of sit back and whine and cry about it and say,'What was me?' or do we say,'Man, that sucks. Let's move on to the next project.'" I think that's where part of that difference is and it's how we react to it is very important. Where I learned that piece of being thankful and not worrying was actually Jesus said, " Do not worry about tomorrow for today has enough worries of its own." He's like, " Look, God takes care of the birds. God takes care flowers, so why are you worried? He's going to take care of you because he loves you a lot more than he loves a bird." That was like this eye opener to me of, " Oh, wow, I never really thought of that." When life is falling apart like when our restaurant was closing, literally we did everything we could do and nothing seemed to work between the people that was in charge hundreds of years of restaurant experience that couldn't turn this restaurant around and when it was all failing and crashing, it was again, " What do we do?" and the reality is you get up and you go to work. You look at the people that survived The Great Depression. My grandfather age, probably your great grandfather's ages, they survived that and had to work that. They didn't have, " Gee, life is great and I'm so happy to be me."
Brett Linkletter: Absolutely.
Peter Demos: They didn't give up either. That's the key is, " What do you do? What's your next step? What is your next step after that?" Sometimes getting out of bed is the next step and then it's like, " Okay, now the next step is take a shower. Now the next step is go to work."
Brett Linkletter: One thing a time.
Peter Demos: Sometimes look at that big thing as opposed to those little pieces at a time, that's huge.
Brett Linkletter: 100% What I say by those, yes, bad things do happen, but how do we turn them into good things, I guess, right?
Peter Demos: Right, yeah.
Brett Linkletter: Like in our business, " How do I let six people go in two weeks? Good people that I had to let go because we didn't have the clientele, we didn't have our funds. It just it was awful." That's not fun, right? That's not fun letting anyone go. It felt really awful. It felt terrible, but the thing is though, by last November, I tell you, we had our best month ever. Hey, it was a really terrible time, but it forced us as a business to say, " How can I turn this into a positive? This seems like the worst thing that could happen, but how can I just turn this into positive?" and we did. I think that's the thing I'm always looking for is, " How can I turn this into some silver lining? How can I take full responsibility for this and turn it into something good because right now maybe it doesn't look so good and so bright, but what can we do to move it towards that?" I guess is really the goal that I always try to do, right? Let's talk about some other things might be more restaurant focus. Obviously, you guys have made it through. Things in Tennessee, just so I'm clear, are pretty much back open 100% now at this point or-
Peter Demos: No, there is 100%, but you're supposed to have six- foot distance from tables. That's not 100%, but because when Fauci came out and said, " School's going to have three feet," we've adapted that, " Okay, it's three feet." I would say arguably, we're about the 95% open internally. The biggest problem we have is getting labor because our cost of living here is tremendously lower than where it is where you live. When those stimulus checks come out, for people where you live maybe just enough or not enough. For here in Tennessee, that's huge. That's a huge dollar.
Brett Linkletter: Totally.
Peter Demos: They're like, " I'm not coming to work because I'm getting more money than what I ever could possibly want." That's not working. Getting people in to take care of the customers is one thing. Then the other area that's hitting us is manufacturing and shutdowns like ketchup packets. I don't know if you saw the article or not where ketchup packets are being sold on eBay because we're in such short supply right now.
Brett Linkletter: No way.
Peter Demos: Yeah, because carryout increased everywhere and then these manufacturing plants get shutdown. They get shutdown for two weeks because someone had COVID and contact tracing or you got to say six feet apart from each other, so you're inefficient. Gloves for us went up from$ 9 a case to $ 200 a case. Our sales could be... We could be at 110% sales and our bottom line is nowhere going to be near that to reflect that increase because of all these other things and chasing product that you don't know... Again, you don't know what's going to be hit. Ketchup packets came out of clear blue. I just was reading an article thinking it was funny about the eBay and I was like, " Who bought ketchup packets on eBay?" Then I read the article and I'm like, " Oh- oh." I'm getting the big cans of ketchup and pouring them in little cups.
Brett Linkletter: Oh, my god. I never even thought about that. That's so interesting though. The shortage of everything, wow. Very interesting. What about for you in general? You said, when he first became the CEO, you felt like you're a fraud and being like, " Am I going to be a good leader, this and that?" How have you progressed through that? How do you get better in general? Is it other specific books? You said you read the Bible pretty frequently. Any specific podcast you listen to or leaders you look up to in general to get better?
Peter Demos: Well, yes and no. I do listen to podcasts. I listen to books on tape a lot. I do read again. Truthfully and honestly, the Bible I find has been the best business book I've ever found. It's amazing what I've read. I read something the other day and I was like, " We need to we need to work on something else here to help our employees get more money." There's just something in there. It's been incredible how what I read, when I read it, just will answer a business problem. That's a big piece of it, but I do listen to podcast interviews. I actually listen to a lot of stuff on YouTube when I drive. I listen to interviews with different people on YouTube. Those are those areas there, but the other thing is I talk to people. If I see a business person, I reach out and try to get ahold of them, " You know what? I'm successful very rarely," especially if they're really high up business people, but I'm like, " Okay, I want to find out," and I get lucky, I may get to have a 30- minute conversation with them. I do a lot of questions there. If I walk into a restaurant and it's well run, " I'm going to talk to the general manager, not to recruit them, but I'm like, " Okay, what do you do? What are you doing here that makes your employees look this nice."
Brett Linkletter: That's awesome.
Peter Demos: Even though technically in the chain, I'm higher than they are, but I want to steal ideas. I go to a Walgreens, and if that Walgreens is really clean, I go there. I've talked to the general manager in Nordstrom. I'm like, " Your customer service is amazing. Tell me how you're helping train your staff," and I get these ideas and then I call our training coordinator and like, " Okay, guess what? Look at what I learned the other day." crosstalk.
Brett Linkletter: That is so cool though, seriously. For anyone listening, hey, if you walk into another restaurant, that's a lot cleaner than yours and the staff seems a lot better than yours, ask them what they're doing. No, but seriously, it seems so simple, but I don't think I've ever spoken to everyone who does that. We do that our business quite a bit. Let's just say, I love hiring business coaches to help me in a specific area that I think I need help with. I think business coaching is huge. I'm all for it. I probably personally spent over 150,000 on business coaching in general, consulting, coaching all that because I get a huge value from it, but I think there's something to be said, a lot of people, they're just resistant to it. I don't know it.
Peter Demos: Right.
Brett Linkletter: They think it's stupid. I'm like, " What do you mean? You went to school this whole time. You spent 200, 000 on your college education, but you won't spend$ 100 to talk to this guy for an hour or even$1, 000 talking to this guy for an hour?"" It is worth it. It's crazy to me.
Peter Demos: Don't limit it to your own industry. For example, we're doing a programs that we saw that a football team has used to help people process better and help them with a processing. We're like, " Okay, we got people that definitely can use help here," and so we started doing something along those lines where we have a manager who's amazing, but the problem was she was dyslexic and she dropped out of high school. We got her a tutor to help her with her dyslexia. Now, she's worked her way up quite well with us. A lot of times, again, looking at what other industries are doing will really help as well because sometimes, if I go to somebody and I say, " Hey, I'm in the restaurant and you're in the restaurant," they shut down, they don't want to talk, but if I go to a hotelier and I'm like, " Hey, I'm in the restaurant business. I want to like to learn how you do customer service." Any Hilton brand, they'll give you a whole tour. Sometimes, I just find just by having those conversations, but a lot of it is pride or, " I think I'm better than what I am," but if you're not working on a problem, then you got bigger problems than you realize.
Brett Linkletter: 100%. Something also that you just got to think about too, if you want to have a conversation with a general manager of any restaurant for the matter that you think is doing a great job and you offer to pay them$ 50, $60 for the hour of their time, maybe even$ 100 for the hour of their, that just made their week.
Peter Demos: I'll be honest with you, that's amazing, because I never really even thought of that because most of the time, I just talk to them and they're just excited to share because that's the thing, everyone wants to be an expert. That's why there's so many podcasts out there, so many brands out there, everyone wants to be the expert.
Brett Linkletter: You're right.
Peter Demos: When you go to somebody and you're like, " Man, I think you've done an amazing job. Tell me what you do," they're more than happy to share with you. My generation and the generation above mine, they weren't at all, but nowadays, it's exciting and then you get to have a face to face with them, so that you can be excited in their face and tell you. You can look at them the whole time, and after they're done talking, you're like, "That ain't going to work. That's just dumb," then that's cool. You get to walk away just thinking that you're morally superior. That's all right, but at the end of the day, you made their day. That's the worst- case scenario is you made them feel good about themselves. The best- case scenario is you get an amazing idea that can help you with whatever you're doing.
Brett Linkletter: You're totally right. Maybe I shouldn't offer people$ 100 an hour for their time. Just kidding. You're absolutely right though because you're right, people, and maybe this isn't going to sound right when I say it, but people want to feel used. They want to feel like they provide value to someone. They want to be the expert like you just said.
Peter Demos: Right.
Brett Linkletter: It is a good feeling to help someone. It is a good feeling to give and be needed, right?
Peter Demos: Right.
Brett Linkletter: I love that. What's one thing when you first start your career that that you... Let's just say you were to go back, what's one piece of advice you would give yourself early on when you started?
Peter Demos: Boy, well, I'll tell you, it's actually I had to learn the hard way about allowing my emotions get the best of me. Bible actually says, " Your heart is desperately wicked and deceitful among all things," so sometimes how I feel isn't necessarily the way I ought to react to it, but one time and my father gave me the advice, I was a younger manager, someone came up and they interrupted me with something stupid that I had to fix. It was just dumb and I was focused on doing something, probably like schedule or something like that. I slammed my hand down on the table. I was like, " Okay, fine, I'll deal with it." My father walks by and he just looked at me very calmly and he said, " You don't have that luxury," and that was it. It was that that recognition. Then, even though I may still be a little bit a hothead, I learned, " Okay, when you get angry, go in the freezer. Get yourself physically cool off. No can see you in there and you work it."
Brett Linkletter: I like that.
Peter Demos: The reality is when everything's crashing, all you can do is one ticket at a time. When you focus on one ticket at a time, when you're overwhelmed, one thing at a time, you knock it off, then you go to your next thing. Sometimes when that kitchen's crashing, the back in the day, inaudible wrap, now the screen's full and you're going to go and all that other stuff, I'll go back in that kitchen and I'll just tell everyone, " Stop. Everyone stop. We're going to work one thing at a time and we get out of that crash, but that's what we have to do. We have to work one ticket at a time." That's true in life. At that time, I'm young. I have a lot more energy. I have a lot more endurance. I think I'm smarter than everybody else and so I could do it all. That's just dumb. Just do one ticket at a time. If you're lucky, you get to do two.
Brett Linkletter: 100%. You're totally right. You're totally right, this one thing at a time, one foot after the other, just keep pushing forward. I love that. I love that. Just the last question for y, if you could step into my shoes, what's one question you would have asked yourself today that I didn't ask?
Peter Demos: Boy, I don't know because again I like having this conversational thing. I'll pat you on the back and say, " I can't really think of anything. I can't think of anything on it."
Brett Linkletter: Awesome.
Peter Demos: I think this has been great because doing a podcast that's wrote and everyone does it, but the way you do it, the way you have that conversation, you don't-
Brett Linkletter: Cool.
Peter Demos: The things that are left out may be left out, but they're not left out on purpose because the conversation leads to where it goes. You don't need to ask those other questions that aren't part of that conversation.
Brett Linkletter: Totally. Well, I'll tell you for myself, I've learned a lot today. I'm sure our listeners have as well. Thank you so much for your time today. This has been really, really cool. I think you are a fantastic business leader. I think what's so cool about you is it seems to me that you provide the same value to your personal life into your business life and you really seek to merge the two which is fantastic. Hey, in all areas in life and business, sometimes things shouldn't be mixed, but I think when you can mix them in a positive way you absolutely should. I love that you provide your employees with values. I love that you want to help people. I love your perception on how you look at the restaurant space on the helping people, being that helping hand. I think that's really cool. For any of our listeners who maybe want to check you out after this episode or interested in learning more about your restaurants, how do they find you? How do they connect with you online?
Peter Demos: You can either go through the word my book website which is afraidtotrust. com and the Contact Us comes directly to me.
Brett Linkletter: Awesome.
Peter Demos: We also do online, eCommerce, so you can buy... We ship our foods in multiple places, so it's demosfamilykitchen. com and there's ways you can contact me through that as well.
Brett Linkletter: Awesome and on afraidtotrust. com, you can order a book there or is it through Amazon? How do you guys do that?
Peter Demos: You can order through Amazon and either one of the spots, you can buy it or you can buy it straight from there and you can get it off Amazon. If you're Amazon Prime, recommend that that way more.
Brett Linkletter: I'm probably getting copy after this episode. I'm a voracious reader, so I'll be right on it. Well, hey, again, Peter, thank you so much for your time today. This was amazing and I look forward to checking out your book and we'll be in touch real soon. Thanks a lot.
Peter Demos: All right. Thank you so much. Appreciate it. You have a good one. inaudible see you. Bye.
Brett Linkletter: All right, see you. Bye.