For so many 20 somethings, those first few years out of college can be confusing ones.
But that wasn’t the case for Nick Theodosis.
Theodosis, 34, is the general manager of Dengeos, the Skokie institution that has been serving up gyros, half chicken sand other dishes since 1972.
There was no Plan B in the cards for Nick Theodosis. Given his background he was destined to run a restaurant.
“I always had a passion for cooking and restaurants,” he said. “It was a product of my environment.”
He is part of a family dynasty. His dad and two uncles are still involved in the business and his cousin operates the Buffalo Grove location.
But running a restaurant is a challenge for anyone, let alone someone when they’re only 22.
“I’m passionate about what I am doing so it wasn’t a problem,” Theodosis said.
These last dozen years have changed the proprietor as he oversees an operation with 25 employees and approximately 500 people come daily customers. “I’ve developed a lot more patience with people through the years,” he admits.
But Theodosis maintains a positive approach. “We have a family environment here,” he said. “If you are good to people, they are good to you. That is our style of management”
Theodosis may put in 12-hour days six days a week, but he doesn’t mind.
“If you love what you do, there is no grind,” he said. “The fun part is you are dealing with so many people. You are basically running every department of a big business. You are the HR department, you are hiring and firing and you are training people. That is the hardest part, but also the most fun part. It is a lot of hard work that is time consuming, but it is worth it because it is a lot of fun.”
Since Theodosis has taken over, he has overseen some changes. There was a major renovation to the physical space in 2000; there has been additional community involvement through the Dengeos for Dollars program and with more people trying to trim waist lines, some healthier alternatives such as Greek yogurt, hummus, turkey and tilapia have all been added to the menu.
While there have been changes inside the store at the intersection at Main Street and McCormick Boulevard, don’t look for an additional Dengeos anytime soon.
“If the right opportunity comes, we are always looking to expand,” he said. “If you are not moving ahead, you are falling behind. We are always looking at something new. But for right now we are content with where we are.”
So what advice does Theodosis pass along to anyone else thinking of starting a business. It is pretty simple.
“Follow your passion and follow your dreams. If it is something you love to do, just do it.”
See previous Small Business Skokie Profiles