Demos’ closing leaves students jobless

Demos’ restaurant closed Sept. 2, leaving approximately 30 students unemployed. Many of the employees were notified of the closing via text message.

The sudden closing of Demos’ restaurant on Cox Creek Boulevard Sept. 2 left 60 people unemployed, approximately half of whom were college students.  

The Demos’ chain shut down its Florence branch when decreasing revenues began affecting Tennessee locations. However, most employees were not aware of the situation until they received a text message from the manager.

“I was at a friend’s house that Sunday night and received a text message from the owner around 10:30 saying it was permanently closing and we would receive a severance check and our last pay check,” said Kayla Kelley, UNA senior and Demos’ employee since its December 2008 opening. “I called a few others to ask if it was a joke.”

Kelley’s story is similar to many who worked at Demos’, but others were not told of the closing until after they had clocked out and read the sign left on the door.

“I worked the night they closed and got a call from a coworker that, basically, the president of the company had just put a sign up on the door saying Demos’ was closing,” said UNA student Johnathan Emory. “There wasn’t any notice.”

Emory had been working as a waiter for three months and had viewed his position as a steady job when Demos’ notified him of the closing.

Despite the severance pay and full month’s pay they were given, the owner’s initial lack of explanation for the closing and decision to not notify his employees beforehand left many of the student workers financially and emotionally strained.

Kristy Roberts, a sophomore at Northwest-Shoals Community College, worked with her husband at Demos’ and was training for the house manager position.

“It put both me and my husband out of work and put a hold on our income,” Roberts said. “It’s hard to find someone who will be able to work around my school schedule and understand that I have two kids. The people at Demos’ worked with me and understood my situation.”

Roberts said the restaurant operated like a family.

“I’m going to miss everyone there. They broke up a family, not just a work place,” said a waitress who wished to remain anonymous.

Although the closing was sudden and distressing to the staff, most workers understand why it happened, she said.

“It may not have been the smartest way to deal with the situation, but it was slow for a long time, and we were losing so much that it was starting to affect the other restaurants in the Tennessee area,” she said.