Murfreesboro’s historic downtown is a unique blend of veteran and newbie businesses and residences thriving together. Some have been handed down for generations, while others are just settling into the hustle and bustle of the Square.
Peter Demos, president of Demos' Restaurants, stands by one of the original fireplaces that is inside the company's new headquarters during a Feb. 15, 2013, interview in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (TMP Photo/M. Willard)
Main Street Murfreesboro, the city’s downtown revitalization program, will honor two longstanding locally owned businesses at its upcoming 28th annual Luncheon and Meeting, held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26, at Maple Street Grill.
The organization recently announced City Tile & Floor Covering as the 2012 downtown business of the year and Demos’ Restaurant as the recipient of the 2012 design award.
Main Street Executive Director Kathleen Herzog explained how City Tile has been the Young family for more than 50 years.
The business was launched in 1957 by several individuals, including City Councilman Doug Young’s father. As a college student in 1969, Young began working with his father, and after serving in the military, he returned to Murfreesboro to continue working there.
“He bought his father’s portion, and then bought the whole business in 1978,” Herzog explained. “So it’s been in downtown a long time. And on the Spring Street location, they’ve done two expansions to the building … they bought the old Roscoe Brown building next door to expand even more, and (Doug’s) son, Andrew, is in there now to carry on the tradition.”
“And we just love all that tradition and family,” Herzog said.
During last year’s luncheon, the 2011 design award was given to the Ed and Andrea Loughry, who constructed a magnificent home on the Square at 126 S. Maple St.
“This year, the Main Street board has decided to present the design award to the Demos family for the lovely, just wonderful, rehab they did for their business office on North Maney,” Herzog said. “It is technically not in the Main Street 53-block area, but we just really want to recognize someone who has come in the way that they did. They met with neighbors and didn’t want anybody to be upset that they were going to have a business office in the residential area.”
She pointed out the area is zoned for both residential and commercial with Oaklands Historic House Museum on one end and The Discovery Center on the other, with Carriage Lane Inn nestled between homes as well.
“But the house was really saved by them,” Herzog continued. “It is a beautiful, beautiful rehab, and so we think that’s a wonderful thing. Anybody who goes in and takes a property and votes on being in our beautiful downtown to have their business offices, well we just are all for that.”
Peter Demos, president of Demos’ Restaurant, told of his desire to be downtown and invest in the future of historic Murfreesboro.
“I believe very strongly in the downtown area and in revitalizing downtown areas,” he said. “Otherwise, as it starts to deteriorate, and people start to forget about it … it kind of feeds into people believing there’s no hope. This enables them and helps them to see that business can come in and help that area.”
And the space – at some 200 years old – has proven to be a perfect office.
“It’s an old home, and being a family business, we just felt like home and our work and our personal life is very much integrated,” Demos said. “My wife (Kristin) drove by, saw it and called me about it. We looked at it and fell in love with it.”
With a little care, crews were able to repair a rotted porch, remove dormers to return the home to its original, historic style, and restore it as one space, instead of the triplex it was. While removing the vinyl siding, they discovered the home’s original siding and repaired it, as well.
“We did everything we possibly could to make it look like it would have in the late-1800s when it was built,” Demos explained.
And what they couldn’t repair, they improvised. Take, for example, the old concrete street signs found underneath the porch.
“Every one that we could salvage, we took and put in the back of the parking lot and made a fence out of them,” he said. “Some of the streets aren’t even in existence any more. They’re just so great.”
Demos explained how his family invested in Murfreesboro more than 20 years ago, and they will continue doing so for years to come.
He announced plans to open Peter D’s, “an upscale, casual restaurant with a sense of humor.”
“It is completely different from Demos’ Restaurant and the price point will be a little higher,” he said. “It will have my sense of humor – not obvious in-your-face, but subtle touches.”
Peter D’s is projected to open by the beginning of 2014 on Medical Center Parkway between Robert Rose Drive and Culver’s.
While required by Main Street’s bylaws, the annual meeting is also an opportunity to reflect on the past 12 months while looking forward to the current year, explained Herzog, the program’s executive director.
None of the year’s accomplishments would have been possible without the 4,244 volunteer hours, which she called, “stunning.”
“I think the sustainability of all of our events and the sustainability of our downtown is on everybody’s minds (looking ahead),” she said. “One of the successes that we look at with regard to that is the Saturday market. It was only in its third year last year, and it’s already more or less an institution.”
Herzog quoted the mission of Main Street program, which is to maintain, enhance and promote historic downtown as the heart of the community.
“One way we do that is with promotions that bring hundreds, if not thousands, to our cherished downtown for many events,” she said. “They may not go into a shop that particular night, but we’re hoping they’ll come back. These events that we do … become an economic driver for retailers downtown.”