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Outback's proprietor rose through the ranks

February 15, 2007|by JANET HEIM

Editor's note: There are a lot of people you see around town that you recognize, but don't know anything about. People like...

Brandon Demers



Age: 35.

Occupation: Proprietor of Hagerstown Outback Steakhouse.

Hometown: Dale City, Va.

Where would you see Demers? As proprietor of the Outback Steakhouse in Hagerstown, Demers puts in many hours at the restaurant, special events in the community and at meetings. He recently received his third consecutive Proprietor of the Year Award, a corporate award, earning the recognition all three years he was eligible.

Three and a half years ago, Demers was working at the Outback Steakhouse in Frederick, Md., when he was offered the opportunity to become proprietor in Hagerstown. Proprietors have limited ownership of their restaurant, a five-year purchase contract that is renewable based on performance.

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Demers said his wife, Tiffany, whom he met through Outback, was 71/2 months pregnant with their first child at the time. They were living in Gaithersburg, Md., but she supported the decision knowing it was one of her husband's goals to be a proprietor.

They now live in Hagerstown with daughter Ava, 3, and son, Luke, who is 21 months old. Demers balances his demanding work schedule and family by spending his morning with his children, while his wife is free to make her own plans. He also has one full day off and usually part of another day a week that is spent with his family.

"None of this would be possible without her support and patience," Demers said of his wife. "We're dinner only, but it still seems like a 24-hour operation."

Demers, a 1989 graduate of Gar-Field High School in Woodbridge, Va., hadn't planned on a career in the restaurant business. In high school, he was the feature editor for the school newspaper, ran on the varsity track team and was captain of the soccer team.

He thought soccer was going to be his "ticket to college," but an injury his senior year sidelined those plans. Demers enrolled in Northern Virginia Community College, but didn't apply himself and stopped going while he figured out what he wanted to do with his life.

Demers started working in retail, then moved into management, before the recession hit and he lost his job. At age 19, he began working at Outback in the kitchen, a career move that has paid off.

He said he feels strongly about Outback's philosophy of giving back to the community. Locally, Demers has supported events by organizations such as the Hagerstown Jaycees, Farmers and Hunters for the Hungry, the Multiple Sclerosis Society, and Muscular Dystrophy Association, the YMCA and its Black Achievers program, either providing meals, tours or raffle items.

Events that involve children are of special interest to Demers, including an Outback program that rewards perfect attendance for elementary and middle school students.

That being said, Demers also strives to give back to his employees, teaching and encouraging them as he was.

"There's nothing more gratifying than to help others develop. We have their best interest at heart," Demers said.

Hobbies: Demers has little time for hobbies, preferring to spend his time with his family. Tuesday and Thursday mornings he takes his children to the Hagerstown YMCA for classes. He "pretends to play golf" when the schedule permits.

Demers said he used to coach a semi-pro level soccer team in Baltimore and would like to coach soccer again. He said his job at Outback fills his "coaching outlet," allowing him to mentor, teach and coach at the same time.

"There's no greater reward than making a positive impact. My passion is to see people do well," Demers said.

What does Demers like best about Washington County? When the Demerses moved to Hagerstown, they knew nothing about the area. The only reason Brandon Demers had even heard of Hagerstown was because he knew of the Hagerstown Suns.

It didn't take long for them to settle in.

"The area is fantastic for us. We're close enough to anything and everything we want to do. Really for myself, it's an ideal fit," said Demers, who added he likes the slower pace here than in Gaithersburg or Frederick.

He also likes his seven-minute drive to work and being 11/2 hours or less from both sets of parents. As a business owner, Demers said he's pleased by the "amazing potential for growth" in the area.




If you know anyone in the community who might make an interesting Our Town feature, contact Janet Heim at 301-733-5131, ext. 2024 or e-mail janeth@herald-mail.com.

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