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Dengeos is as 'Main Street' as it Gets

Nick Theodosis, owner of the ever so busy Dengeos' Restaurant, was destined to run his family business - a Skokie institution since the early 1970s.

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.

Theodosis went to Loyola Academy, graduated from Glenbrook South High School, and took courses at both Kendall College and UIC. By the age of 22, he was running the family business.

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.”

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See previous Small Business Skokie Profiles

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George Slefo November 17, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Just out of curiosity, what do you usual order? Me? Dengeos Salad, chopped with chicken w/ garlic bread A side of Greek potatoes OR Half Chicken and Greek Potatoes, with garlic bread. Post below!
Gloria Begovich November 18, 2012 at 12:27 AM
Right with you there George, Half Chicken and the Greek potatoes, Gyros Plate, oh everything is so good there. There are absolutely no complaints on their food. Their management is superb!! They have got to be one of Skokie's BEST!!!!! Hats off to Nick and his family!!!
Kate Gig November 18, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Weird timing for this article as uptownupdate.com posted today that a Dengeo's is coming to the corner of Broadway and Wilson in Chicago...
DownTheBlock November 20, 2012 at 11:16 PM
I love the food, but the people who work there are some of the rudest I've met. I endure them because the food is so good. The kitchen staff busts their butts, the order takers act like they're bored of you and the area you have to ist and wait in for your food is usually jammed with people wandering all over getting drinks or their kids are walking on your toes. Bad set up..great food
Oliver P. McCracken November 28, 2012 at 02:15 AM
What a lovely place to dine! Why, I did so just this evening. The waitstaff of eager youngsters is sunny of disposition, with not a ruffian or rambunctious urchan to be found among them. The fare there tends toward the exotic, with "gyros" made of sliced mutton on "pita" bread, such "Italian" culinary creations as "spaghetti," and even continental delicacies such as a frankfurter sandwich. For the ladies looking to fit into their corsets more comfortably, there are light "salads" consisting of fresh shrubbery and vegetation. I must say, the highlight of my dining experience was the new-fangled "electrical" soda-dispensary contraption which allowed me to mix all flavors of seltzers, sasparilla, and other sweet refreshments by simply placing my disposable paper goblet under a watering spout. Huzzah, huzzah, and a thousand more huzzahs to technology! I highly recommend Dengeo's Restaurant, and give my regards to Mr. and Mrs. Dengeo, the purveyors of its haute cuisine.

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