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Ms. Cheap: Super affordable Demos’ lunch specials are like a throwback


Demos’ meat sauce spaghetti is a weekly lunch special and also the favorite menu item of owner Peter Demos. MARY HANCE

Demos’ restaurants have long been known for their super affordable lunch specials.

And these days, it is pretty much unheard of to find a sit-down restaurant serving a nice lunch for $6.50!

Think weekly specials like meat sauce spaghetti or blackened chicken stuffed potato, both of which are served with salad and bread for $6.50.

MARY HANCE

Halleluia! Even with tax and a tip, it means we can get a tasty meal for under $10.  (actually $8.52, with a 20 percent tip).

And you can enjoy this super bargain lunch special between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. every weekday at all three Demos’ restaurant locations (1115 Northwest Broad St. in Murfreesboro; 161 Indian Lake Blvd. in Hendersonville; 130 Legends Dr. in Lebanon).

Peter Demos, the second-generation owner of the almost 35-year-old Middle Tennessee chain, says his team works hard to remain an affordable place for people to eat lunch and dinner.

He said affordability is one of the things that sets Demos’ apart from its competitors, “but it is affordability with quality food and service.

“All of the Demos family have had struggles with income in our lives and we feel that all people should be able to enjoy a quality dining experience regardless of their income,” he said.

Keeping prices low “is a struggle, particularly in the last couple of years,” he said, noting that with the cost of food and labor both increasing dramatically, businesses like his have to be creative and resourceful.

“We do everything we can to have systems in place to minimize waste,” he said. ‘And we make certain that every table is cleared and reset as fast as we can. The most expensive thing we have in our restaurant is an empty seat.”

He says his company also negotiates directly with food manufacturers to minimize costs.

In addition to the $6.50 weekly lunch specials, Demos’ offers a daily lunch special for $7.95, which sometimes includes popular signature dishes like lasagna, grilled tilapia and hamburger steak, which are otherwise priced at $11.79.

And they make it easy for customers to know what the upcoming specials by listing that week’s upcoming specials on the website  (www.demosrestaurants.com/special) and by inviting customers to sign up online for Sunday emails listing the upcoming specials.

“A lot of people use that to plan their weeks,” said Daniel Taylor, one of the managers at the Hendersonville location.

Another very popular deal on the menu is the unlimited soup and salad combo for $10.59.

“We sell 70,000 gallons of (chicken and rice) soup a year. That is enough to fill an Olympic size swimming pool,” said Linda Castillo, manager of the Hendersonville location who has been with Demos’ for 21 years.

Demos’ said most of the featured recipes on the menus came from his grandmother and from other Demos relatives, who were Greek immigrants. The restaurant is a blend of Italian and Greek foods, Castillo said.

The Demos’ story began in 1943 when Peter Demos’ father, Jim Demos, at age 9, began working with his father, Pete, in their small family-owned restaurant in Birmingham, Ala.

Demos’ has been in Middle Tennessee since 1989, when Jim Demos opened the first location in Murfreesboro and later added locations in Hendersonville and Lebanon. There was also a downtown Nashville location that closed several years ago.

A few things to know about Demos’ restaurants

In addition to dine-in and take out, Demos’ restaurants offer catering for all sized groups and also have family meal pans that you can order and pick up to feed a crowd. 

One of the more popular items on the menu is the “famous baked chicken and rice soup.”

”We sell tens of thousands of gallons of soup and ship it all over the country,” Demos said. “It is especially popular during cold and flu season.”

Demos’ has daily all day “Happy Hour” offers. Monday, two for one well drink; Tuesday, two for one glasses of wine;  Wednesday, half price bottles of wine; Thursday, two for one bottles of beer; Friday, $5 drink of the day, and Saturday and Sundays, half off bloody Marys and mimosas. There is a calendar on the website identifying the upcoming specials. 

Demos dinner menu is slightly more expensive than the lunch menu and includes some steaks and other premium items in addition to most of the lunch menu offerings.

Demos’ has a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee – “If you do not like it and tell us while you are there, we will replace the item with something you do like or you do not have to pay for it,” Peter Demos said.

Demos’ is a family business. Peter Demos has been owner and president since 2001, when he bought the company from his father. Peter’s wife, Kristin, handles marketing. Both of their college-age children, Jamey and Karys, are involved in the business.

Demos’ has about 450 employees, including many who have been with the company for 20 years or more.

Peter Demos’ favorite menu item is the meat sauce spaghetti. 

The restaurants do not accept reservations but have a waitlist that you can access online.

In addition to the three Demos’ restaurants, the Demos Brands company includes the fast casual PDK Kitchen and Pantry. PDK, which launched in 2018, has locations in Bellevue, Mt Juliet and on Charlotte Pike. PDK also has a daily lunch special and a weekly lunch special, and a gift shop.

Mary Hance, who has four decades of journalism experience in the Nashville area, writes a weekly Ms. Cheap column. She also appears on Thursdays on Talk of the Town on NewsChannel5. Reach her at mscheap@mainstreetmediatn.com and follow her on Facebook as Facebook.com/mscheap

Demos’ has three locations in Middle Tennessee — Lebanon, Murfreesboro and Hendersonville. MARY HANCE

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