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Peter DemosPeter Demos is the President and CEO of Demos Brands. As a veteran restaurateur, Peter’s extensive experience in the hospitality industry includes owning and operating multi-location restaurants and brands across Tennessee. Peter also authored Afraid to Trust and On the Duty of Christian Civil Disobedience.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • Peter Demos shares his career journey and finding fulfillment in the hospitality industry
  • How to recover your business from the lasting impact of the pandemic
  • Peter discusses what has affected changes in customer behavior
  • Discovering passion for helping others through personal choice

In this episode…

In this episode of the SpotOn Series, Chad Franzen is joined by Peter Demos, President and CEO of Demos Brands, which has multiple restaurant locations in Tennessee. They discuss Peter’s experience in the restaurant industry from a young age, the pandemic’s impact on restaurant operations, and how society deals with the aftermath of isolation. Peter also reveals the inspiration behind his book Afraid to Trust and his dedication to helping others.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:04  

Welcome to the Top Business Leaders Show, powered by rise 25 media. We featured top founders, executives and business leaders from all over the world

Chad Franzen  0:20  

Chad Franzen here co-host for the show where we feature top restaurant tours, investors and business leaders. This is part of our SpotOn Series. SpotOn has the best-in-class platform for retail and they have a flagship solution called SpotOn Restaurant, where they combine marketing software and payments all in one. They serve everyone from larger chains like Dairy Queen and Subway to small mom-and-pop restaurants. To learn more, go to This episode is brought to you by Rise25. We help b2b businesses to get ROI clients referrals and strategic partnerships through done for you podcast. If you have a b2b business and one of those great relationships with clients referral partners and thought leaders in your space, there’s no better way to do it than through podcasts and content marketing. To learn more, go to or email us at support at rise. 25 Peter demoness is the president and CEO of Demos Brands and Demos Family Kitchen owning five restaurants across Middle Tennessee and hoping one more on the way including PDK southern recipe of Southern Kitchen & Pantry and multiple other businesses. He entered the family restaurant business at age 12 When he started working as a dishwasher in his in his dad’s Western Sizzlin restaurant. From there, his experience in the food industry and serving others gradually grew. He went on to earn his doctor of jurisprudence degree, during which time he discovered that he could better fulfill his passion for helping people in the food industry. His latest professional pursuit is the release of his compelling debut book, detailing his journey from fear-filled to fearless. It’s called Afraid to Trust. Hey, Peter, thank you so much for joining me today. How are you?

Peter Demos  1:53  

I’m good. How are you? Thank you for having me on.

Chad Franzen  1:55  

Good. Thank you. Hey, tell me a little bit more about your entry into the restaurant industry when you were young.

Peter Demos  2:03  

So my father was a Western system franchise franchisee he was, he was a third generation restaurant restaurateur. And he left the restaurant business for a bit and got back in it with Western CISM and brought it to Middle Tennessee. So that’s how we ended up in the Nashville area. And about 12 years old, I started I would work summers started washing dishes and working as a fry, cook and work in the salads etc. And then when I got old enough to go work on my own, I didn’t want to work for him anymore. So I started working in other places like I worked at Bonanza restaurant, I worked at Perkins that worked at Houston’s restaurant when I was in college. And so just so any any any time I had, I just kind of worked different restaurants around the time and became a lawyer. And one day I just said, You know what I’m really I was present when I was even practicing law, I was working part time in my parents restaurant. And I just said, you know, I just don’t want to be a lawyer, I was listening to some conversations that were taking place. And I was like, I just don’t want to have that conversation. And you know, 10 years from now and it wasn’t a bad conversation was anything bad was just like, that was just kind of my my clue of that’s not where I want to be. And, and so I called my father up and said, hey, I’m interested in coming back if you want to have me and what I didn’t know is that he was getting to an age where he was looking for someone to buy the restaurant. And so that gave him the opportunity for me to come back in instead and and that’s where it kind of goes from there. So that’s how I ended up kind of getting back into the restaurant business from that point.

Chad Franzen  3:37  

Okay, great. How important would you say your father was and your father was in your professional background?

Peter Demos  3:43  

You know, but both is extra, both my father and mother for various reasons. So extremely important. You My father taught me how to run a business, my mother taught me how to because she became a dining room manager for my father and was instrumental in creating the systems that we have for Demos is and and so like Sunday morning she and I would open the restaurant together and then we if we hurried fast enough, we would go across the street to Hardee’s get a chicken and biscuit and and sit down. And then we would argue over what servers were good, what servers weren’t good, how to manage people, etc. And she really kind of taught me how to manage people. So she really taught me how to run a dining room and how to and how to pay attention to details and that type of stuff. So they were both instrumental in different ways. And getting me to where I’m at right now.

Chad Franzen  4:32  

So when you originally decided to get your law degree, what was your intention at the time?

Peter Demos  4:37  

So I originally wanted to become a lawyer back in. See I probably was in middle school when I wanted to be a lawyer. My father is one of the few times I was allowed to skip school without being sick. And he was being sued actually, well, no, he was sorry. He was a witness in a criminal case. It was a fraud criminal case and the defendant wanted to represent himself. So he was calling everybody as witnesses. And my father is one of them that he calls a witness. And, and I was so fascinated with the whole process. It just, it really, really was intriguing to me. And so at that point in time, I started reading books on law and reading books about lawyers. And, and I was like, This is what I want to do, I want to go into law to really help people and, and that’s why I chose to go into that profession. So again, I worked, I worked as restaurants, even law school, I worked as in restaurants. And then as I as I moved from that, and again, I recognized at some point in time that in the restaurant business, we have the ability to help more people than we do as a lawyer. And lawyers help people don’t get me wrong, it’s not the fact that they don’t, but they do a much better restaurants impact people’s lives, whether it’s our employees, or whether it’s our customers, we have an impact on them. And if we choose to, we have an impact in a tremendously positive way, you know, many of the restaurants I worked at did not have that they didn’t have that mentality. But that was the reason why I chose to go back into that business. And, you know, and I will say, even if I choose to leave the restaurant business, you know, I will end up going into something where again, I can have an impact on people’s lives.

Chad Franzen  6:19  

So you eventually decided that you didn’t want to become a lawyer.

Peter Demos  6:25  

I am a lawyer. So I did become one. Right. But what I’m not right, yeah. Not permanent, not permanent. That out loud, though. So you’re doing that?

Chad Franzen  6:35  

So so how has getting your JD helps you fulfill your passion for helping people within the restaurant industry?

Peter Demos  6:44  

You know, I don’t know if, you know, we’re, we’re being a lawyer has helped is there’s been several areas is that in, in the restaurant business, we are scrutinized by so many government agencies, city, city officials, state officials, federal, you know, and there’s all the administrative agencies within each and, you know, so you have those, and then you then when you’re dealing with a lot of employees, and a lot of customers, it’s particularly in the litigious age that we’re in, you know, you get sued a lot. And so it’s very helpful, very beneficial to kind of understand and see it and, and it’s kind of neat for me to have other people, you know, come in from other restaurants and say, oh, you can’t do that. It’s against the law. And I’m like, actually, it’s not against the law. They, these larger corporations, some of them set up blanket statements for because either that may be the law in California, and they have restaurants in California and here, and therefore, they have to kind of just make a blanket law and not state specific, or they just don’t want to take any chances. And so they say, okay, look, we’re just going to make this a blanket law. Whereas with us, we have a little bit more flexibility. And because of that background, we can do certain things. But I was also able to use the law degree to do things like the unemployment law that’s written right now was one that was drafted by me, it was a lot of changes to it, a lot of people were instrumental in getting it passed. But the but in order to be able to help us kind of and help our industry as a whole, and not only that rising the unemployment insurance, but also in order to keep people on our payroll more as people that are gaming the system at that point in time and trying to move from place to place

Chad Franzen  8:28  

was there kind of a circumstance that you realize that you would really miss the restaurant industry, as you’re pursuing an alternate career, that really, that was a way that you really liked to help people?

Peter Demos  8:39  

You know, it was there’s kind of really two factors, you know, there again, I was sitting in a habit of listening my desk, and I was having a listen to a conversation and just just realized I didn’t want to have that conversation in 10 years, it was just one of those that you just kind of, you’re just sitting there and you’re just like, it just kind of just not where I see myself, that was part of it. But the other part of it was was the days I worked in the restaurant part time, I didn’t get tired. Like when I practice law, about 1:30-2:00 o’clock in the afternoon, I wanted to nap. And the days that I could leave and go work in the restaurant that night and close the restaurant down. I didn’t get tired at all, and that the energy level at night was just tremendous. And I’m, I like to joke and tease people etc. And you have that opportunity in that profession in the restaurant. So I would go there and it was just kind of fun and you can just talk to people and just kind of be yourself were law, you had to always maintain a level of professionalism at all times. And it was just a little bit more difficult to relate to some of the people that I couldn’t so just kind of but there was not like one specific thing where I was like, Oh, it was this person on this time. It was just a lot of little factors and it was just a realization one day that this is where I needed to be.

Chad Franzen  9:52  

Can you tell me a little bit about PDK Southern Kitchen & Pantry and what a customer can expect when going to one of those located Since,

Peter Demos  10:01  

yeah, so it’s a fast casual restaurant, which means that just one of those that you pay at the counter first and then we’ll deliver the food to you, we’ll give you a number then then then you will bring the food out to you. But one of the things that recognized was that with fast casual, I did a research on the 50, top 50 fast casual restaurants. And of those 50 fast casual restaurants they specialize 37 of them specialized in one item that consisted of four things, it was either burgers, sandwiches, breakfast, and Mexican burritos are some time. And then I would think you’d get like down to 43 items when you throw chicken in the mix. But everyone all 50 did one item. And we recognize that one of the things that makes us very good at Demos is and and every concert we’ve ever done was the speed of service in which we can get items out. And so I was looking at it I’m like we have an ability to have more of an eclectic menu and it’s a southern menu. So but it’s eclectic in the sense that we have chicken, we got burgers, we got salads, we got sandwiches, we got shrimp, and grits chicken and waffles, hot chicken, you know, I mean, just an assortment of items that we can do. And we can get the items out within between six and eight minutes. Total ticket time. So by the time that a customer can come, they can get their food and leave. But it also allows them a variety. So like my kids, one of my kids love burritos, the other one loves chicken. And so it was always a battle whenever we would pick our kids up from a from a, you know, a game, you know, late at night, and it’s like seven o’clock, they still got homework, so we just had to grab food fast. And we didn’t want to go through just the drive thru, you know, at a fast food restaurant. And so it was just gave everybody an option that we had. And that was one of the things we wanted to create was that option.

Chad Franzen  11:57  

Great, great. So this idea. You’re the one that started these PDK Southern Kitchen & Pantry?