Monday, December 14, 2009

1 Meet me at Demeris. . .

For as long as I can remember, my Daddy has eaten lunch on Monday's at Demeris Barbecue on Shephard. The same group of men have come in at the same time and sat at the same table since 1978. Without fail, the owner, Gus Demeris, ambled over at sometime during the meal to shake hands, trade jokes, or just give out an extra cookie or piece of pie. Demeris Barbecue was not only a restaurant but walking into the building was almost like walking into a friend's kitchen. One of the reasons was the predictable behavior in every part of the experience. Helen was always behind the cash register asking, "What'll you have?" As she yelled the order, the kitchen immediately got started cutting the meat. A Demeris son was always behind the counter and by the time you got your tea at the end of the line, you had been greeted by at least three different smiles and felt right at home.

Over the years, Demeris Barbecue has become my Dad and my "date" place. Anytime I met my Dad for lunch he always said, "Why don't we meet at Demeris" and it has become our tradition. It was always the same, Greek Salad for my dad, Garden salad with Turkey for me. . . and, of course, two large teas! Since I was little, I have loved hearing my dad tell the story of how Gus came from Greece, worked his way up and eventually owned such a successful restaurant and catering business. The story never got old. As a little girl, it showed me that anything was possible and as long as I worked for my dream, I could achieve it. As I got older, it only made me more proud of my country and the "American Dream" that could be attained. Demeris Barbeque has been a staple in my life for the past 28 years. Gus always used to be there when we went but since his retirement and especially in the past year his sons have been the ones who have held down the fort.

Sadly our friend passed away this Thursday. When my dad emailed me at work, he concluded his email with "the end of an era." It truly is. It seems that this past year, I have learned more about Gus than I ever knew throughout my lifetime. The continuing theme throughout each story has been his heart for others. It seemed only fitting that "his heart for others" was portrayed on Thursday as everyone who walked in the door of Demeris ate free.
I will miss seeing Gus' sweet smile when I am on dates with my Dad, or just stopping by Demeris to grab a large tea while running errands. But I know that I am not the only one. All of Houston will miss this first generation immigrant, who through a Cinderella story, grew to be an icon and fundamental part of Houston restaurateurs!
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1 comment:

  1. I love this post. Such a sweet tribute to what sounded like an amazing man.


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